S 24-Pgs administration on war footing to ensure stellar turnout on May 19
Kolkata: The South 24-Parganas district administration is leaving no stones unturned to ensure a good turnout in the last phase of the Lok Sabha polls scheduled on May 19.
The district, with the four parliamentary constituencies of Diamond Harbour, Jadavpur, Mathurapur, Joynagar and almost half of South Kolkata, has the highest number of booths in the entire country at 8,550. The district is followed by Nagpur, North 24-Parganas and Thane in terms of total booth count, nationwide.
"Apart from mobilising more than 6,000 vehicles including water transport and other arrangements for smooth ferrying of polling personnel, we have given utmost importance to risk aversion and disaster prevention. We are installing two temporary automatic weather stations at Gosaba and Patharpratima, for very specific and localised weather forecasts," said South 24-Parganas DM Y Ratnakara Rao, who is also the District Election Officer (DEO).
The district administration has taken lessons from cyclone Fani, for which it had elaborate arrangements for disaster management. "This district has perhaps the highest diversity in the country, with a blend of metropolitan, international maritime border sharing, as well as an archipelago of islands," the DM added.
The entire Gosaba Assembly constituency under Joynagar PC which has 257 booths and nearly half of the Patharpratima Assembly constituency with 136 out of 293 booths, are located in remote riverine locations.
"Arrangements are in place to make voting personnel reach these locations 48 hours in advance. The rule book says that voting personnel should reach their place of duty a day before polling," a senior official in the district administration said.
The official added that there will be speedboats at all important ghats, 'Apatmitras' who are specially trained in disaster management operation and other necessary standard operating procedure (SOP) in place. Sufficient number of CCTVs will also be installed at important locations.
The Coast Guard, which has its base at Frasergunj, is sanitising the waterways on a regular basis as a part of preventive intervention.
"We have made all DCRCs weather proof, taking lessons from the 2009 Lok Sabha elections when 200 EVMs were damaged due to inclement weather and machines were procured from Hyderabad on a war footing to address the crisis situation. With a large part of the district being located on the coastal belt, chances of natural calamity are always on the cards. So we need to be prepared fully in advance," the official said.