Poll officials fail to reach Zanskar on time

May 13th, 2009 - 10:51 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, May 13 (IANS) The difficult terrain made it impossible for a 12-member team of elections officials to reach in time the snow-covered Zanskar region in Jammu and Kashmir to conduct voting Wednesday.
But the determined election officials Wednesday early morning began an arduous trek up the Himalayas. As they would reach the two polling stations in the region by Thursday night, the Election Commission said in a statement here that polling will be held there Friday.

The two polling stations in Ladakh constituency have 37 voters - Ralakung has 23 and Phema 14.

According to the commission, the team - including the presiding officers, polling officers, constable, satellite phone operators and porters - were to reach Ralakung and Phema in Zanskar area.

“The whole day Tuesday we tried our best to ensure the IAF (Indian Air Force) helicopters were able to land carrying the polling personnel and electronic voting machines (EVMs) to conduct the poll as per schedule,” the statement said.

But, the commission said as the landing became impossible due to terrain condition, the two polling parties left Wednesday at 4 a.m. on a difficult trek of over 45 km through knee-deep snow to reach the polling stations located at an altitude of 13,700 feet.

“To reach these polling stations, they have to cross a pass which is locally known as Ralakung La at a height of 16,100 ft. We expect these 12 polling personnel to reach the locations by Thursday night to set up the polling stations for the poll. We look forward to hold elections May 15,” it said.

The commission said they will be tracking the movements of the officials through satellite phones.

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