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Webcast woes in 107 remote booths

- Poor Internet connectivity trips live telecast of polling process in three seats

The Election Commission’s ambitious move to introduce webcasting during polls in Jharkhand proved a dampener on Day One when poor Internet connectivity impeded live streaming of the voting process from a large number of booths covered under the hi-tech surveillance system.

Transmission from 107 of the 201 booths located in the remote areas of Chatra, Lohardaga and Koderma constituencies, which went to polls on Thursday in the first round of Lok Sabha elections in the state, started witnessing prolonged buffering from 10am.

Chief electoral officer P.K. Jajoria, who was present at the election office in Dhurwa, Ranchi, to monitor the live feed on four high-resolution LED monitors, was naturally disappointed.

“There is some problem in Internet connectivity. Hence, we are not getting constant feed from around 100 booths. The recordings are being transmitted, but the buffering is frequent and long,” he said.

The senior official added that the technical hitches were a learning experience for him and his team — around a dozen officials had taken their seats in front of the giant screens before 7am when voting began— and they would see to it that similar problems did not occur on April 17 when six more constituencies would go to polls.

“But the glitches have not hampered our surveillance in the booths concerned. We are constantly getting information and updates from all locations, so there is nothing to worry even if video footage is not coming instantly,” he added.

Altogether 245 sensitive and highly sensitive booths were under web watch in Chatra, Lohardaga and Koderma. Web cameras and tablets with in-built cameras were installed at 201 selected polling booths in Chatra, Gumla, Koderma and Lohardaga, 24 in Garhwa, 16 in Hazaribagh and four in Ranchi. Palamau, which also voted, was the odd one out.

The four screens that had been installed at the election office telecasted the recordings from Gumla, Lohardaga, Koderma and Chatra. There was also a fifth one, which was kept aside for poll calculations and viewing other details.

Although the start was smooth with almost all 245 cameras responding well, slow and staggard Internet connectivity started playing spoilsport.

“We are receiving signals from almost all locations, but then prolonged buffering is definitely frustrating. It is happening due to slow Internet connectivity. Feed transmission from around 107 locations were fine till 10am, but now the footages are simply not opening,” complained a senior monitoring official around 1pm.

Voting ended at 4pm.

Do you think the Election Commission should have been better prepared to carry out glitch-free webcasting? Tell ttkhand@abpmail.com


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