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Rain forces new observer choice

Jorhat, May 15: The Election Commission has deputed a local observer to monitor the counting of votes at Anini, the headquarters of Dibang Valley district of Arunachal Pradesh, tomorrow after the general observer failed to arrive because of heavy rain and landslides over the last few days.

Dibang Valley’s deputy commissioner Tamune Miso told The Telegraph that the district has been totally cut off from the rest of the country since last Friday owing to heavy rain. “There have been landslides at several places on the road between Roing, the headquarters of Lower Dibang Valley district, and Anini. So, movement of vehicles has been restricted since May 9,” Miso said.

Yesterday and today attempts were made to transport the Election Commission representative from New Delhi, P. Kumar, to Anini by helicopter but that could not be done because of heavy rain and fog, Miso said.

“The Election Commission has replaced him with a local observer. D.N. Philips Zeliang, the manager of SBI’s Anini branch, has been chosen to monitor counting of polls tomorrow,” he said.

However, despite the heavy rain, Arunachal Pradesh polling officials were able to reach the remote polling station of Richik in Kurung Kumey district and successfully conducted the repoll. An official statement from the district election official said the voter turnout was 57 per cent. Fresh polls were also supposed to be held for Chulla in Kurung Kumey but though polling officials were equipped with satellite phones, they could not be contacted to confirm if the polls were conducted.

Polling in the two booths was originally scheduled for May 14 but polling and security personnel were unable to reach their destinations owing to inclement weather.

The deputy commissioner said the district could be facing a shortage of essential commodities if the rains don’t stop within a week and road communication is not restored.

“We have stocks of rice to last the next one week but if the situation does not improve there will be a shortage of essential commodities. We are already facing a shortage of petrol and diesel,” he said.

District informatics officer Rajendra Prashad said according to weather forecasts, there will be continuous rain for the next several days and it is unlikely that the situation will improve.

The continuous rain in the Arunachal hills over the last few days has also triggered a rise in the water level in most of the rivers in Assam, including the Brahmaputra. The Dibru-Saikhowa National Park, which spreads over Tinsukia and Dibrugarh districts of Assam has also witnessed floods in the last few days due to heavy rain in the Eastern Arunachal hills.