Growing chill troubles poll officialsLocal residents and officials deployed to conduct the elections to the federal parliament and provincial assemblies worry about increasing cold in high-altitude settlements of Ilam and Tehrathum districts.
Biplav Bhattarai & Chandra Karki
Local residents and officials deployed to conduct the elections to the federal parliament and provincial assemblies worry about increasing cold in high-altitude settlements of Ilam and Tehrathum districts.
With an advancing winter, voters fear adverse weather conditions might make it difficult for them to cast the ballot on December 7.
“Dipping temperatures certainly affect voters. But the villagers think we should exercise our right to vote,” said Dandu Sherpa of Sandakpur in Ilam.
People of Sandakpur are required to walk 9km to the polling centre at Hile that lies at an altitude of around 3,000 metres.
People of Jaubari in Sandakpur Rural Municipality Ward No 5 need to descend to Ingla through a forest. The polling centre lies 7km below their settlement.
Residents of high-altitude areas such as Kalpokhari, Meghama, Tumling, Manebhanjyang, Ranke, Pashupatinagar, Antu, Kanyam and Kolbung of Ilam will be affected by cold.
Though there is no snowfall, frost is common in the upper belt. There are fears of a possible drop in voter turnout in Thursday’s elections due to cold.
Voter participation amounted to 74 percent in the district during the recently held local level elections.
Poll officials are equally affected by piercing cold. “We are committed to working collectively and making the elections a success,” said election official Kishor Bastola, who hails from Itahari, Sunsari.
In the nearby Tehrathum district, election officials deployed in high-altitude settlements are troubled by cold, with some complaining of difficulties to keep warm on chilly nights.
Polling Officer Subas Shrestha at Jalapadevi Basic School in Laligurans Municipality Ward No 1 said the employees have difficulties staying in public buildings without proper facilities.
Officials complain that they do not have proper bedding material and quilts. Polling Officer Bednath Khanal said they cannot seek locals’ help as there are no homes nearby.