Odisha: Poll teams may not be air-dropped in Maoist-hit Swabhiman Anchal

Odisha's Swabhiman Anchal, once Maoist-affected, will not use airdrops for polling personnel due to improved road connectivity. Two polling stations will be accessed by boats. Helicopters will be on standby for emergencies. Unlike previous elections, campaigning is allowed in Swabhiman Anchal with security arrangements. Despite no recent Maoist activity, security remains high, especially along inter-state borders. The district has 100 hyper-sensitive polling stations.

PTI | Koraput | Updated: 09-05-2024 17:42 IST | Created: 09-05-2024 17:42 IST
Odisha: Poll teams may not be air-dropped in Maoist-hit Swabhiman Anchal
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With gradual improvement in the situation in Maoist-affected Swabhiman Anchal in Odisha's Malkangiri district, the administration has decided not to air-drop polling personnel and security forces to polling stations as was done in 2019.

Since the construction of the Gurupriya Bridge, in 2018, which connected almost all the 151 villages in Swabhiman Anchal, which was earlier known as a cut-off area, with all-weather roads, the necessity for air-dropping polling personnel and security forces has diminished, an official said.

During the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, polling staffers and security personnel were air-dropped in at least nine polling stations in Swabhiman Anchal.

This time, out of the 23 polling stations in Swabhiman Anchal, officials plan to ferry staffers to two polling stations at Jantri and Sanyasiguda by boats, and to the remaining by road.

''Previously, helicopters were used for transporting security forces and polling officials. This time, however, they will go by road to all but two polling stations, which do not have road connectivity,'' Malkangiri Superintendent of Police Nitesh Wadhwani said.

However, the SP said, a helicopter will be kept on standby at Jeypore airport in adjacent Koraput district for emergency ambulance purposes, should any untoward incident occur.

Noting a change in the situation, he said, ''Unlike previous years, when restrictions were imposed on campaigning due to Maoist presence, this time candidates are being provided with adequate security for campaigning everywhere in Swabhiman Anchal area.'' He said that over there are 100 hyper-sensitive polling stations out of total 547 in the district.

The SP said the Swabhiman Anchal is currently free from Maoist activities, allowing election campaigning even in remote villages with appropriate security arrangements.

''Our foremost aim is to conduct free and fair elections sans any violence. All necessary steps are being taken to ensure that,'' the SP said.

He said that despite no major Maoist violence being reported in the district in the last 19 months, security personnel remain on high alert, particularly along Odisha's inter-state boundaries with Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, where most of the hyper-sensitive polling stations are located.

''Intelligence-based operations are being conducted in coordination with our counterparts of the neighbouring states,'' the SP said.

The district comprises Chitrakonda and Malkangiri assembly seats which come under Nabarangpur Lok Sabha seat, where polls are due on May 13.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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