Tamil Nadu

Moving EVMs an uphill task in the Nilgiris

Terrain troubles A jeep with EVMs crossing Moyar river to reach Kallampalayam village in the Nilgiris.  

Moving electronic voting machines (EVMs) to a few far-flung corners of the Nilgiris district remains a challenge for election officials. Politicians, too, find it tough to take their message to the remotest areas.

The three most problematic places that election officials believe will pose a problem are Thengumarahada in the Sigur plateau and Anaipallam, both in the Coonoor constituency, and Nagampalli in Gudalur.

“Election officials always prepare in advance to ensure that the EVMs reach Thengumarahada safely and on time. EVMs have to be transported to the area through Coimbatore (Mettupalayam) and Erode (Sathyamangalam). If the Moyar is in spate, officials will have to cross the river on coracles,” said an official who was on duty during the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

“Thengumarahada is technically more close to Coimbatore and Erode than to the Nilgiris district headquarters. It can only be reached from Udhagamandalam through Mettupalayam, then a trip to Bhavani Sagar and finally to Kallampalayam through the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve,” the official said.

Another difficult area for both election officials and politicians to reach is Anaipallam near Coonoor. Road access to the village is limited. In the past, election officials would have to walk around 5 km to the area, carrying EVMs on makeshift cradles.

“To persuade the villagers, who are adivasis, to come out and vote, we have gone to Anaipallam in the past. On one such occasion, it was decided that the officials walk to the village because the roads were bad. Walking to Anaipallam, though a challenge, was manageable; climbing back so far as Pillur Mattam, where we had left our cars, proved to be a Herculean task. One official had to be treated for fatigue and dehydration,” said an official.

Such difficulties mean that candidates often skip these interior villages while campaigning.

At Nagampalli in Gudalur, elephants are one of the primary threats to the safety of candidates. As a result, they seek the permission and protection of the Forest Department while travelling there.

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 1:38:52 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/tamil-nadu/moving-evms-an-uphill-task-in-the-nilgiris/article34015440.ece

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