Satyasundar Barik

No measures for them during panchayat polls, says Blind Association of Orissa

  • EC authorities say no special arrangement has been made for them
  • Ganjam has the highest number of such voters

    BHUBANESWAR: The Blind Association of Orissa (BAO) is contemplating moving the court if visually challenged voters are denied the opportunity of casting their votes in the coming panchayat polls in the State.

    The threat has come since the State government has so far not been able to take necessary measures to enable physically challenged voters to cast their votes as was directed by the Supreme Court direction in 2004.

    "Subsequent to the apex court verdict, we had submitted a memorandum to the State Election Commission requesting implementation of the order in the State. However, we do not feel any action is being taken to guide us to polling booth," BAO Secretary Sanyasi Behera told The Hindu here on Thursday.

    Campaign mooted

    He said by this time a sensitisation campaign could have been taken up on use of electronic voting machine or printed Braille ballot.

    "Facilities have not been put in place. We fear the visually impaired voters will not be able to exercise their voting right," Mr. Behera said. When contacted Secretary to the State Election Commission H C Satpathy said no such arrangement had been made to enable visually challenged persons to cast their votes during panchayat elections. Slow progress on the issue is evident from the fact that in September 2005, the State Election Commission had directed the Women and Child Development (WCD) Department to provide a status report on Braille-literate population in the State. But the authorities had ended up with an incomplete list by this month, source said. The WCD department had found only 952 Braille literate voters from 18 districts of the State.