Badrinath bypoll: Admin faces uphill task amid rain, landslides

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Gopeshwar, Jul 7 (PTI) With the Badrinath assembly bypoll scheduled for July 10 and heavy rains triggering landslides at several places, the Chamoli district administration is making foolproof arrangements to safely transport polling personnel, EVMs and VVPATs to the polling stations.

While the Border Roads Organisation and the National Highways Authority of India are busy reopening the roads blocked by landslides, a contingency plan is being readied for emergency situations, Chamoli District Magistrate and Returning Officer Himanshu Khurana said.

The biggest challenge is to take the polling personnel to the polling station on time, he added.

According to officials, 41 roads are still blocked by landslide debris.

Khurana held a meeting of the nodal officers for the election and instructed them to keep a plan B ready to deal with any emergency, an official statement said.

Officials have been asked to identify the potentially sensitive sites where landslides can occur and deploy an adequate number of workers and excavators there. Additional vehicles will also be stationed at these sites for the safe transit of polling parties, it said.

Apart from the installation of GPS devices on the vehicles engaged in election duty, instructions were issued for marking alternative routes to deal with unavoidable situations and keep the pedestrian routes to the polling stations accessible, it said, adding raincoats will be provided to the polling personnel and security forces.

The polling parties will leave for 17 remote polling booths on Monday and will rest for a day before the election is held on Wednesday, it said.

Several such parties will have to travel more than 100 km by road to reach the polling stations, the statement said.

The Badrinath Assembly constituency is prone to natural disasters and conducting a by-election there can be challenging for the local administration, officials said.

The constituency is spread across Mana village in Badrinath and Niti village in Niti valley to Dronagiri village situated at an altitude of 12,000 feet. There are a total of 210 polling stations. PTI COR ALM RHL

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