11 km trek up to Bengal’s highest polling booth

April 8th, 2011 - 4:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Dajeeling, April 8 (IANS) Election officials have to trek 11 km up the Himalayan range over two days to reach West Bengal’s highest polling station — located at Sirikhola, 2,800 metres above sea level.

The Sirikhola primary school polling booth, 99 km from this hill resort, has 778 voters mainly from the Gotkha community. On foot, it is 11 km trek northwest of Darjeeling town.

Part of the Darjeeling assembly constituency, it goes to the polls April 18. The area has neither electricity nor piped water, officials said.

Elections are the only time the residents of Sirikhola see the official machinery in strength.

Apart from electronic voting machines (EVM), the officials will carry torches, battery chargers, portable generators, candles and lanterns.

The Daragaon primary school is the second highest hilly polling station of Darjeeling constituency. It is located at an altitude of 2,600 meters and has 1,139 voters.

There are altogether 14 polling stations categorised as remote in the Darjeeling and Kalimpong constituencies.

If the polling party gets stranded because of bad weather, they will be airlifted.

The administration ensures that only officials able to trek and rough it out for a few days are sent to these stations, said an official training the poll personnel.

Darjeeling has six assembly constituencies. West Bengal will have six phase election starting April 18 to elect 294 legislators.

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