Poor arrangements irk voters, elderly citizens in Odisha

Drinking water was also an issue in certain booths, though authorities had made provision of free drinking water in most of the booths.
Senior citizens vented their anger at several polling stations, alleging lack of adequate arrangements for them.
Senior citizens vented their anger at several polling stations, alleging lack of adequate arrangements for them. (Photo | Express)

BHUBANESWAR: Despite elaborate preparations for elections in Bhubaneswar and Cuttack, arrangements at some of the booths in the twin city left a lot to be desired.

Around 1,660 booths had been set up across the seven Assembly segments under Bhubaneswar and 2,289 in Cuttack Lok Sabha constituencies. Apart from setting up model polling stations in the Assembly segments, authorities had also opened several women-managed Sakhi booths.

In Bhubaneswar, the arrangements proved inadequate as voters, especially senior citizens, vented their anger at several polling stations, alleging lack of adequate arrangements for them. Voters who turned up at the polling booth in Laxmisagar high school alleged there was no shed outside it. “Despite hot and humid weather conditions and rain alert, the authorities did not make provision for a shed, forcing voters to stand in a long queue in the open for hours to cast their vote. It may have been declared a model polling booth, but the arrangements here are the same as at any ordinary polling booth,” rued an elderly person, while waiting for his wife outside the polling station.

A lady at the same booth rued the volunteers waiting to receive wheel-chair-bound voters were not attending to such voters properly. In Kesura, some senior citizens were irked after not finding any seating arrangement for them as they kept standing in a long queue to exercise their franchise during noon. Drinking water was also an issue in certain booths, though authorities had made provision of free drinking water in most of the booths.

At Biren Mitra College booth in Cuttack, voters complained of drinking water shortage and fans. “Despite the humid weather, the polling personnel were not refilling the water containers. There were disposable glasses but no water to drink. Besides, there were no fans in the waiting area,” said Sk Khalid, a voter of Keshapur.

Differently-abled voters also faced difficulty as many of the general booths lacked ramps with the adequate gradient. At a booth set up at Baba Sagar high school in Mahtab Road, PwD voters were provided wheelchair assistance till the entrance of the booths. “Due to inadequate gradient, the NCC volunteers had to physically carry me inside the booth where I took help of a wheelchair again. But we were given priority while entering the polling booth,” said Pradeep Sahoo, a differently-abled voter of Mahtab Road.

PwD booths see a mix of polling staff

The PwD-managed booths in the Twin City saw a mix of both PwD and general polling personnel in the third phase on Saturday. While earlier, CEO had announced that PwD booths will be managed only by PwD staffers, sources said the exercise was chaotic in the first phase. Which is why, it was decided that such booths will be managed by a mix of both PwD and general polling officials, said authorities in CEO office.

According to reports, there were two PwD booths in six Assembly constituencies under Cuttack Lok Sabha constituency. These two booths were at Secondary Board high school and Ravenshaw Collegiate school in Cuttack. In the seven Assembly segments under Bhubaneswar Lok Sabha constituency, close to 30 PwD booths were established.

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