Lok Sabha Election

In Nandurbar, barges carry the vote

Tribal frontier: There are nine polling centres that can only be reached by barge.   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Nine polling centres in Maharashtra’s Nandurbar district are gearing up for elections on April 29, although differently. These centres are located in the most inaccessible parts of the district, across the Narmada river waters in the Satpura mountain range. The district administration will be transporting electronic voting machines to the nine centres on barges, on the night before the polls, and then back.

The absence of government buildings in some hamlets of the region also pose a problem for the district administration, which has responded by setting up three makeshift polling booths in Dhankhedi, Mukhadi and Zapi villages of Akkalkuva taluka.

Sheds as booths

The square sheds fifteen metres long have been put up using tarpaulin sheets and bamboo, with tables and chairs for election officials, and a makeshift toilet. The EVM machines will be kept on the tables for voters to exercise their franchise.

Nandurbar district is at the northernmost tip of Maharashtra. The Lok Sabha constituency, which consists of six Assembly segments, is the first district on the State’s electoral rolls, and is reserved for Scheduled Tribe (ST) candidates.

While Nandurbar city is like any other small town, much of the district’s rural area is backward in terms of infrastructure development, and is also drought-affected. The northern talukas of the district have the Satpura mountain range running through them. There are a large number of tribal hamlets located within the Satpuras.

The polling centres that can only be reached by barges are Manibhili, Chimalkhedi, Dhankhedi, Mukhadi, Dhaneri, Gaman, Bhadal, Potdya and Bhabri, in the Akkalkuva and Akrani talukas. They are located beyond the Narmada’s backwaters. Manibhili is the first village on Maharashtra’s voter rolls.

Two-day trek

Some villages were submerged by the Sardar Sarovar dam project, forcing tribals to migrate higher up. It takes up to two days to reach the villages on foot. The barges are the only convenient transport. But even in a barge, the journey may take three to four hours.

Anil Pawar, District Collector for the region, said, “Some of these [locations] are hamlets while some are revenue villages. The barges are their regular method of transportation as walking may take days. One has to cross mountains on foot to cross over to Nandurbar.”

The polling teams must submit the EVMs at the district office, no matter how late it gets on voting day.

Related Topics
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Oct 29, 2020 1:03:41 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/lok-sabha-2019/in-nandurbar-barges-carry-the-vote/article26968714.ece

Next Story