Election officials have to trek 11 km up the Himalayan range for two days to reach Bengal's highest polling station at Sirikhola, 2,800 metres above sea level.
With Darjeeling all geared up for polling on April 18, polling personnel for the P-2 (remote booths where one has to traverse by foot ) left the subdivisional headquarters on Saturday.
Ponies and porters will be used to transport the electronic voting machines (EVMs) to the booths 16 P-2 booths — 14 in Kalimpong and two in Darjeeling subdivision. They will also carry torches, battery chargers, portable generators, candles and lanterns.
Tangta Primary School is the farthest and one has to travel 133 km by road from Kalimpong and then walk around 4 km to reach it.
The highest polling station in Bengal and the third-highest in India, Sirikhola, is just below the famous trekking destination Sandakphu. It is 12 km from the nearest settlement Rimbik, which is connected to Darjeeling by road. The second-highest is Daragaon primary school.
Earlier, different coloured flags were used in some P-2 booths in Tangta with no means of communication at all. The flags would be waved from the hilltop to signal messages to persons positioned at lower altitudes. This would be relayed to the sector office.
With elections turning hi-tech, mobile phones, police personnel with RT sets and packs with repeaters will be pressed into service in all P-2 booths for smooth communication. “This time, the SMS reporting system will be put to use. The mobile phones of the presiding officers will be registered and the SMS on polling details sent by the presiding officers will be used to instantly upgrade the CEO website,” said Tamal Das, SDO Darjeeling.
In case the polling party are stranded because of bad weather, arrangements will made to airlift them.
Inputs from IANS