Millennium Post

EC prepares for polling in state's highest altitude booth

Kolkata: The Election Commission is gearing up for voting in the booth at Srikhola Primary School under Bijanbari block in Darjeeling which is located at an altitude of 2,700 feet from the sea level. This booth in the district is located at the highest altitude in Bengal. Darjeeling will have polls on April 18, during the second phase of elections.

"The booth is located very close to the Indo-Nepal border and is highly sensitive and accessibility is a major challenge. It is five hours' drive from Darjeeling town and then a steep climb of nearly 7 km on horses. The election officials and the security personnel including the Central Forces will be reaching the booth at least 24 hours in advance," an EC official said.

Bijanbari is a small town located in a valley. There is a winding scenic road that goes down all the way from Ghoom to this sleepy town over a stretch of 22 kilometres.

Lovely mountain streams, waterfalls, tea gardens and the green forest is a feast to the eyes. However, the booth located at the extreme end of this block has around 915 voters who hail from four villages.

The residents in the area have been demanding proper connectivity to this place for a very long time.

There have been attempts by the state Public Works Department (PWD) to construct a narrow motorable road through the hills to reach the booth. Some part of the road was also built by the PWD engineers but a major landslide that took place a few months back had damaged it.

It may be mentioned that the total number of booths in Darjeeling parliamentary constituency is 1,899 among which 874 booths are in the hills and the rest 1,025 booths are in the plains. Out of the 874 booths in the hills, 261 booths are in Kurseong Assembly constituency (AC), 321 in Darjeeling AC and 292 booths in Kalimpong AC.

Darjeeling parliamentary constituency has 80 percent of its booths highly sensitive and the Commission is making special security arrangements for all of them.

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