A whopping 1,000 polling personnel were moved via boats in Sandeshkhali and Hingalganj islands of the Sundarbans mangroves spanning North 24-Parganas district in West Bengal where the fourth phase of polls are underway on Monday.
“As many as 1,000 personnel have been moved in around 50 boats in Sandeshkhali and Hingalganj of North 24-Parganas,” an official in-charge of polling personnel management stated. Polling began earlier in the day in 49 constituencies spread over two districts - Howrah and North 24 Parganas - bordering Kolkata in phase four of the West Bengal assembly elections.
The south-eastern part of the district merges into the Sundarbans, the world’s largest mangrove forests straddled by India and Bangladesh. The islands are full of creeks and swamps and for polling personnel to take positions ahead of the election date, boats and steamers were pressed into service.
Moreover, Election Commission officials said in 170 booths on these two islands, polling personnel were ferried two days ahead (on Saturday) of the election date, contrary to the movement usually a day ahead.
Ham radio centres were set up in around seven areas of the islands and operators of the West Bengal Radio Club (Amateur Club) informed they are transmitting polling percentages every 30 mins to the district election officer from the polling stations, since mobile connectivity is unavailable in the shadow zones.