PARADIP: Voters of Gobindpur under Dhinkia panchayat, which had been the nerve centre of the anti-Posco movement, will still have to cast their ballot in another village despite restoration of normalcy and withdrawal of the steel plant project.
The voters, like the 2009 polls, will have to travel a distance of four km to Nuagaon panchayat on April 29 to exercise their franchise. There are 1,124 voters in booth no 74 and 1,135 in booth no 75 which include the elderly, persons with disabilities, pregnant women and others.
In the 2009 General Elections, the voters of Gobindpur had cast their votes in neighbouring Nuagaon panchayat while voters of Dhinika had exercised their franchise in booth nos 71 and 72 at Trilochanpur village. The arrangement was made as district and police officials were prevented by anti-Posco activists to enter the area.
In the 2014 General Elections, the district officials had met the villagers and sought to know if they were willing to have a polling booth in their village this time. The villagers had given their consent for the same. Accordingly, polling booths 71 and 72 were set up in Dhinkia High School for voters of Dhinkia while booths 74 and 75 were set up at Gobindpur UP School for voters of Gobindpur village.
In the upcoming elections, however, while the voters of booths 71 and 72 from Dhinkia will cast their votes in their own village, those from Gobindpur will vote at a cyclone shelter at Nuagaon panchayat.
An 80-year-old Bishnu Burdhan of Gobindpur alleged gross negligence by the administration to tag the village’s booths in other panchayat. “During the 2009 elections, hundreds of voters had not exercised their franchise fearing arrests as hundreds of warrants were pending against their names. In this elections, hundreds of elderly persons will be deprived of their right due to prevailing heat wave and distance of the booths from the village,” he said.
The villagers said they have sought the intervention of Chief Electoral Officer, Odisha and Election Commission of India to take action against officials concerned for tagging their booths in other panchayats. Sarpanch of Dhinkia panchayat Salila Nayak said he had met the Collector on Tuesday and sought to shift the booths to Gobindpur village.