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Cyclone Fani and its impact on voting in West Bengal

May 4, 2019 3:37 PM |

Cyclone Fani and Impact of voting on West Bengal

The Lok Sabha Elections for Hooghly, Howrah and North 24 Parganas are scheduled for Monday. The district authorities of these places are spending anxious moments as they are perceiving that Cyclone Fani might cast a shadow on last minute poll preparations.

At the time of landfall, Cyclone Fani was classified as an extremely severe cyclonic storm with winds of 180-190 kmph with gusts to 200 kmph. It has since been downgraded to a Depression and is expected to further weaken over the coming hours as the system remains over land. However, dangerous impacts still persist. As per the Coast Guard Radar recording, on hitting West Bengal the wind speed was 60-70 kmph gusting to 90 kmph.

An official from Hooghly said that there could be damage to the Dispersal cum Reception Centres (DCRCs). The polling officials collect EVMs and other materials, including Voter verifiable paper audit trail (VVPAT), from the DCRC on Sunday.

On Monday, polls will be held in seven parliamentary constituencies — Hooghly, Sreerampore, Arambagh, Howrah, Uluberia, Barrackpore and Bongaon — spread across three districts. Usually, each subdivision of a district houses two-three DCRCs.  In the past 24 hours, Uluberia has recorded 22 mm of rains.

DCRCs are usually set up on the premises of any college building or a government office. Temporary structures are erected to distribute election-related materials to the polling officials. The polling officials submit the EVMs and the VVPATs in the DCRC after voting is over.

Also, the official from Howrah said that the temporary structures were set up on Friday.

An official explained that Saturday, two days ahead of polls (known as P—2 in official language), is extremely important in terms of poll preparations. The official mentioned that usually they keep everything ready including EVMs, VVPATs and other materials for distribution. Just in case, the DCRCs gets damaged today due to rain or winds, it would be tough for them to distribute materials to the polling officials on Sunday. However, weather experts at Skymet say that any such threat is ruled out for the moment as the cyclone has weakened.

Image Credit: The New York Times

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