Tucked inside the dark forest folds of the West Ghats , the election process in the tribal panchayat of Edamalakkudy will once again see a collective of amateur radio enthusiasts chipping in.
This will be a repeat of their feat in the 2010 poll.
Cut off from all conventional communication systems, the Idukky District Administration will engage ham radio operators to set up a communication network to support the poll process. The station will facilitate communication between the election officials at Edamalakkudy and the district election office at Painavu.
“There is no other way, wireless sets or mobile telephone are of no use there and election officials deputed to Edamalakkudy will be cut off from us otherwise,” said Rajeev S, Deputy Collector (Election), Idukky.
The district authorities have already roped in the HAM Emergency Communication and Disaster Management Society of Idukky. Manoj Galaxy, custodian of the organisation, said the communication network will be involved some 30 HAM operators, to be drawn from all parts of the state. “Radios operating in Very High Frequency bands will be set up in all the booths, which will communicate with the receiving antenna or repeater station at Pullupara,” he explained. The repeaters would, in turn, convert the signals into transmitting frequency and send them to the equipment in the District Collectorate.
Alongside the polling booths, radios will be set up in the official vehicle of the district sub-collector (election) as well as in the office of the Devikulam Block Development officer.
Edamalakkudy panchayat is a conglomerate of hamlets situated almost 30 km from Munnar. Polling will be conducted in 13 booths in this local body, which has a total of 1,407 voters, of which 925 are women.
The only transport available to the panchayat is the occasional jeep service operating till Pettimudi, 14 km away from Munnar town. One has to walk about 20 km through dense forest to get there. During elections, officials make it a point to reach a day in advance there.