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2 teams begin 45-km trek through snow to wrap up Elections '09

2 teams begin 45-km trek through snow to wrap up Elections '09

Author: Suman K. Jha
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: May 14, 2009

Two polling teams of 12 trained trekkers are walking 45 km through snow at an altitude of 13,700 feet to ensure that the 2009 Lok Sabha elections end before the results come in on May 16.

For the record, the largest democratic exercise in the world will end on May 15 with voting for two polling stations in Jammu and Kashmir's Zanskar sub-division, Ralakung and Phema, with 23 and 14 voters respectively.

Voting in the rest of the country, with 71.3 crore voters, divided into 8.34 lakh polling stations, was completed with the fifth phase today. Voting in the two Zanskar polling stations in the Ladkah Lok Sabha seat was scheduled for today but the Election Commission deferred it yesterday after IAF choppers, carrying poll personnel and EVMs, were unable to land there.

"IAF choppers were to help us transport polling equipment and personnel in 97 polling stations identified throughout the state. In these two polling stations, however, it proved difficult for the choppers to land as they are located in a gorge. We had conducted a reccee earlier though," said Jammu and Kashmir Chief Electoral Officer B R Sharma.

Two polling teams will trek - they began at 4 am today - to reach the two polling stations before Friday.

After regular polling staffers said no to the arduous task, six porters were roped in for the exercise. The porters in the teams will be paid a one-time honorarium of Rs 5,000 each while government officials - one presiding officer, one polling officer and one constable and one satellite phone operator - in the two teams will get a month's salary for the task.

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