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Lamps save day in power-hit booths

Imphal, April 17: Two lamps provided by the state election authorities saved polling personnel at Tera Boys High School booth in Imphal West from chaos and electorate ire during voting for Inner Manipur Lok Sabha constituency today.

The power situation in the state is deplorable and the state’s chief electoral officer O. Nabakishore Singh’s farsightedness avoided trouble which could have been triggered by blackouts.

The state election office had provided two battery-run lamps each to all the 1,256 polling stations in the four valley districts of Manipur — Imphal East, Imphal West, Bishnupur and Thoubal, which comprise the Inner Manipur seat, to ensure that all the booths were adequately lit to allow officials and voters to proceed smoothly with polling.

“We do not know what we would have done without these two lamps. These give enough illumination to identify voters and check the names on the list. They also light up the voting compartment to enable voters to see the voting machine, the buttons and the names of the candidates on them,” Ibungo Singh, a polling personnel posted at Tera Boys High School, Imphal West, told The Telegraph.

Inner Manipur, which went to polls today, is one of the two Lok Sabha seats in Manipur, the other being Outer Manipur, where polling was held on April 9. Eight candidates are in fray in the Inner seat, which is having a triangular fight between Thokchom Meinya Singh, the sitting Congress MP, Moirangthem Nara Singh of the CPI and R.K. Ranjan Singh of the BJP.

When this correspondent visited the polling station, there was no electricity. “Last night, we put up an electric bulb in the booth. But as there is no power, we are using the two lamps. If required, we will get candles,” said an official at the polling station, which has about 900 voters.

Tumhara sarkar power nahi deta hai sahab (Your government does not provide power, Sir),” quipped a BSF personnel guarding the polling station.

Manipur can barely provide half of its daily requirement of 200MW. So the Okram Ibobi Singh government is resorting to power cuts daily. Consumers get power for barely six hours a day.

Ibobi Singh, who is heading the Congress government for the third term, took over charge of the power department when his third term began in March last year with the promise that his priority would be to improve the power situation. A year later, the promise remains unfulfilled.

A majority of the polling stations were set up in schools, which either do not have electric bulbs or electric connection. Those having power connection did not get any supply during most of the voting hours, from 7am to 4pm.

Shyashakhi Girls High School in the city had three polling booths. Two of them had enough sunlight because of more windows. The third, which could not get enough sunlight, had to depend on the two lamps.

However, a slight drizzle around noon and a cloudy day thereafter prevented adequate sunlight from reaching even those polling stations that had ample windows and doors. The saving grace then was again the lamps.


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