EC announces slew of measures to arrest dip in voters' turnout
Poll premises to have rest rooms, shades for sun protection, water and tight security
Kolkata: Concerned over the dip in voting percentage in the fifth phase of elections particularly in semi-urban areas such as Barrackpore and Howrah, the Election Commission of India is making extensive arrangements for a high turnout in the seventh phase when the city and its adjacent constituencies such as Kolkata South, Kolkata North, Dum Dum, Jadavpur are going to polls.
"We are emphasising on elaborate security arrangements to instill confidence among the people and at the same time create an ambience that will make it easier for people to stand and cast their votes comfortably," a senior official of the Commission said.
Barrackpore with 76.83 percent voting recorded a dip of 4.93 percent compared to the polling percentage in 2014. Howrah had only 67.59 voting till 5pm on the voting day but ultimately rose to 74.78 percent with a rise of 7.19 percent in the last one hour (till 6 pm) taking the final percentage close to the 2014 percentage of 74.79 percent.
Kolkata has the record of having the lowest percentage of votes in the state.
"It is a challenge for us to bring the voters to the booths. We have been carefully designing many programmes to increase the turnout of voters soon after the dates of the elections were announced. We are also trying to have elaborate security measures to boost the confidence of the voters," a senior official in the District Election Office (DEO) office of North Kolkata said.
According to the figures available with the Election Commission, in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, when the state average was a whopping 82.22, Kolkata South recorded only 67.95 percent North Kolkata had 65.99 percent.
Some assembly constituencies located within the city also had a poor voting percentage.
Tollygunge that falls under Jadavpur constituency recorded 74.01 percent turnout, Metiabruz that falls under Diamond Harbour constituency recorded only 72.26 percent turnout and Bidhannagar Assembly segment that falls under Barasat parliamentary constituency recorded 71.81 percent turnout of the voters.
Jadavpur Assembly segment had a polling turnout of only 73.3 percent.
The Commission is making efforts to erect shades in front of each polling station so that they people don't have to stand under the sun.
"There will be arrangements of water, medical facilities and rest rooms in as many constituencies possible so that they people can take rest if they feel uncomfortable. The aged and the physically challenged voters will be allowed to cast their votes early. We are also taking steps to help physically-challenged people to cast their votes," an official said.
As per the plans drawn up by the Commission, 673 companies of Central force will be deployed in the seventh phase with Kolkata getting a share of 146 companies for its two constituencies in 1,576 polling premises — making a provision of nearly 10 personnel for each premise. Another 27 companies of Central force is slated to be deployed for Bidhananagar commissionerate area.
Apart from the Central forces there will be 291 inspectors, 1265 Sub-Inspector or Assistant Sub-Inspector, 2,330 armed constables and another 3,000 constables to maintain the law and order in the city. Apart from that another 27 companies of Central forces along with 55 inspectors, 316 Sub-Inspector or Assistant Sub-Inspector and 650 armed constable and another 700 constables will be deployed to man 802 booths spread over 344 premises in Bidhannagar commissionerate.
The EC plans are not meant for only two constituencies of Kolkata but for the entire city, including parts of Jadavpur and Diamond Harbour constituencies.