It’s a six-hour trek to polling centre, but voters undaunted

Sindhupalchowk , Nov 25

More than 300 eligible voters of Tembathan, the base camp of Jugal mountain, in this district’s Jugal Rural Municipality trekked for six hours today to reach the polling centre.

These voters told THT they decided to leave their houses a day before elections as they had to trek six hours to reach Pangarpu, the nearest polling centre. Sindhupalchowk is among the 32 districts where the first phase of provincial and parliamentary polls will be held tomorrow. They also left a day before the elections because senior citizens, ill people and pregnant women would not be able to reach the polling centre if they left the same day, said  Srijana Tamang, vice-chair of Jugal Rural Municipality.

She said it was hard to build a road to Tembathan due to difficult terrain. There are huge rocks above the road and the Brahamayani River below. “Voters can’t travel alone as the road goes through a forest and people fear wild animals, so they walk in a group.” Tembathan and Dipu are not connected with motorable roads.

“We are now planning to build a road for residents of Tembathan,” she said.

Not only from Tembathan, but also many voters of Solukhumbu district have to walk at least six hours to cast vote.

According to Chief District Officer of Solukhumbu Bhupendra Thapa, voters of Tengboche, Dingboche and Lobuche, which are located above 3,800 metres at Khumbu Pasang Lhamu Rural Municipality, also have to walk at least six hours to reach the nearest polling centre.

Election Commission Assistant Spokesperson Mukunda Sharma said the EC could add polling centres in these areas in future to address voters’ problems if the district administration recommended.

He also said the polling centres were recommended by the district administration after consulting political parties in the districts. “We have set up polling centres even for 63 and 64 voters in Mustang so we can make such arrangements in other districts too, but the district administration should recommend the same.”

Srijana Tamang said voters wanted a drinking water project launched. “If candidates did not provide the project as promised, people would feel betrayed and not cast their vote the next time,” said Tamang.

Chief District officer of Sindhupalchowk Asman Tamang said, “Polling centres should not be far away from the voters.

The CDO came to know of Tembathan voters’ plight only when he was briefed by a political cadre. He said a polling centre should have been set up at Tembathan village.

According to him, a number of polling centres, such as Gumba, Golche, Pachapokhari and Baruwa village were not connected by motorable roads.

There are 285 polling centres, including Pangarpu and Gumba and 144 polling stations across the district. Thirty-one polling stations and 52 polling centres including Pangarpu and Gumba have been categorised as sensitive, said CDO Tamang.