Most of the residents of a hamlet in Bankura’s Saltora do not go to vote and prefer to remain busy in regular work on the polling day.
It is not because they do not want to participate in the electoral process but the reason is the distance of the polling station.
Welcome to Gobindapur village in Saltora block. The village, surrounded by forests and dotted with several illegal coalmine pits, has around 450 voters who have to travel around 4km to reach the polling station at Singhir village.
Gobindapur developed into a village gradually around four decades ago after people from different places started living in the forest area along the bank of the Damodar river.
“It is very troublesome for us to travel 4km to reach the polling station and so, most of us do not vote,” said Dhriti Bauri, a villager who collects firewood.
The Election Commission of India has been taking up measures to bring maximum number of voters to the polling station for the past few years. From this year, the commission asked district authorities to organise wheelchairs for physically-challenged persons to help them cast their votes.
The Gobindapur villagers have this time again written to the district administration to set up a polling station in their locality.
Sources said the villagers had started writing wall graffiti to boycott polls but local Trinamul leaders erased them.
Trinamul denied the charge. “There is a problem and we have already taken up the matter with the district administration during an all-party meeting held to ensure smooth polling,” said Kali Prasad Roy, Trinamul block president in Saltora.
The villagers have been asking all political leaders who are coming to seek their votes to solve the problem.
“We are urging the political leaders coming to our village for campaign to solve the problem and then seek our votes,” said Jaba Layek, a resident of Gobindapur village.
The village comes under the Bankura Lok Sabha seat.
Bankura district magistrate Umashankar S. said he had already sent the local block development officer to inquire the matter.
“The BDO after inquiry informed me that the polling station is little over 2km away from Gobindapur and not 4km which the villagers are claiming. However, the problem was long standing and we are looking into it,” he said.