Migration shadows poll atmosphere in Bolangir villages

Bolangir: Even as panchayat elections have created much hype in every lane and by-lane of rural pockets in Odisha, some villages in Patanagarh area of the district have worn a deserted look as most of the villagers have migrated outside in search of greener pastures.

The State Election Commission (SEC) has made all arrangements in these villages like others for polls, but absence of large number of voters has raised serious apprehension of proxy voting. There are eight Zilla Parishad zones in Patanagarh area. But, some panchayats like Bagdor, Bahabahal, Beheramunda, Belpada, Bharuapali, Dhamabhata, Lathor and Tankapani have only a handfull of voters including some elderly and physically challenged persons. Around 35,000 locals from these areas have migrated to different States for job.

Those remained in villages will exercise their franchise, but voters who are outside the State can not return in an odd time to cast vote, a resident said. “Government continues to turn a blind eye to our problems. So, our people are migrating outside the State to provide food for our empty stomachs. Can they come for voting?, Umakant Pradhan, resident of Patanagarh area, said.

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The district administration called upon the voters to utilise their political rights. “We urged them to exercise their franchise as it is their right. Works are being provided to them under MGNREGA and other government schemes. Steps are also being taken to ensure their local engagement”, Collector Asis Thakre said.

He added that agents of the political parties will guard the duplicity in voting. “Polling agents will strictly verify the identification of voters before they enter the polling chamber. We are fully alerted to ensure fair polls. The visit books of presiding officers and sector officers are being scrutinised,” Thakre added.