The Himachal Pradesh State Election Commission has decided to set up a polling station at the Bada Bhangal village in Baijnath constituency of Kangra district.
The Commission had earlier shifted the booth from the remote village to Bir in the same constituency, nearly 72 km away.
However, on Friday, state chief electoral officer Narender Chauhan announced that the Commission had decided to reopen the booth in Bada Bhangal.
“The 291 voters in the village will be originally registered at the Bada Bhangal booth, but will have an option to vote either at Bada Bhangal or Bir. An auxiliary booth has been set up at Bir for the voters of this village,” said Chauhan, adding that those outside the village would vote at Bir while those staying in the village would cast the ballot at Bada Bhangal.
He added that in the 2012 assembly elections, 43 voters had stayed at Bada Bhangal, of which 23 had exercised their franchise.
Akshay Jasrotia, an activist based at Baijnath who had been taking up the issue with authorities, has welcomed the Election Commission's decision.
Situated deep between the mighty Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal ranges of the imalayas, Bada Bhangal is considered to be the remotest village in the hill state. Located at a height of 7,700 ft above the sea level, this remote village with a population of more than 500 has 291 registered voters.
A polling booth was first set up in the village during the assembly elections in 2007, after 60 years of independence. While electors in Bada Bhangal boycotted the general elections in 2009 for non-fulfillment of their demand to exclude the village from the sanctuary area, they had voted in the 2012 assembly elections.
Helicopters were used to lift polling parties to the Bada Bhangal polling booth during the previous three elections.
Before 2007, the villagers used to trek 72 km through the 4,654m-high Thamsar Pass or travel more than 300 km via Chamba to reach Bir in Baijnath (Kangra district) to exercise their franchise.
Most of the people in this village are nomads and migrate to Bir in winter. However, many of them stay in the village, braving the harsh weather conditions. Others, who leave for Bir, return to the village in summer.