From Boat Ride To Trekking Hills: Polling Officers Take Much Pains For Rural Elections In Odisha

According to data from election authorities, there are a total of 294 voters in Bagra village under Manchagam GP in Tentulikunti block of the district where voting is underway in the second phase of panchayat polls on Friday i.e. February 18.

Polling officers take boat journey & then trek hills to reach Bagra village under Manchagam GP in Tentulikunti block of Nabarangpur district

Decades of democratic exercise seemed to have resulted little fruit except failed promises for many rural pockets of Odisha where even now polling parties still try to put their lives at stake to conduct elections.

Such pictures of underdevelopment once again came to fore on Wednesday when a team of Election officials carrying briefcase-sized voting machines, registers, ink and other election paraphernalia in their hands were seen taking a boat ride to cross Indravati River.

The poll parties also reportedly trekked several miles of inaccessible hilly terrain to reach Bagra, a remote village in Nabarangpur district, to conduct polls in the village today.

According to data from election authorities, there are a total of 294 voters in Bagra village under Manchagam GP in Tentulikunti block of the district where voting is underway in the second phase of panchayat polls on Friday i.e. February 18.

A sector officer of Tentulikhunti block, Harekrushna Bisoyi spoke to newsmen while narrating their arduous journey to conduct the elections. 

"I have been assigned to conduct polls in Bagra village under Manchagam gram panchayat. We reached Kenduguda Ghat from Tentulikhunti block and crossed the river in a motorised boat. After reaching the other side of the river, we trekked the hills for three kilometres," said Harekrushna.

Locals allege that boats are the only means of communication to many villages along the Indravati Hydro Project in the district. 

Hundreds of people residing in as many as six villages— Gurumaiguda, Tanginikot, Bagra, Jholaguda, Tolong and Chiliguda under Ward No-18 of Manchagam panchayat in Tentulikhunti block who are surrounded by the waters of Indravati River take boat rides to reach the polling booth in Bagra village to cast their votes.

At least three polling officers, one security guard and one sector officer have been engaged in the booth to conduct panchayat elections in the region.

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)