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Himachal’s remotest polling station set up at over 2,800 metres

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Shimla, May 19 (IANS) The state Election Commission has decided to set up one of the state’s remotest polling stations at Bara Bhangal in Himachal Pradesh's Kangra district at an altitude of over 2,800 metres not accessible by road.

It falls in the Baijnath Assembly constituency that is part of the Kangra parliamentary seat.

Situated between the mighty Dhauladhar and Pir Panjal ranges of the Himalayas, Bara Bhangal is considered to be the remotest village with 469 electorates.

An official with the Election Commission told IANS that the polling station of Bara Bhangal has been set up in Bir, where now 310 voters will exercise their franchise.

Owing to the difficult geographical conditions of the area, an auxiliary polling station will also be set up in Bara Bhangal where the remaining 159 voters will cast their votes.

For the first time since Independence, a polling booth was first set up in the village during the Assembly elections in 2007.

However, electors in Bara Bhangal boycotted the general elections in 2009 for non-fulfilment of their demand to exclude the village from the sanctuary area. Their demand persists today also.

During winter, a majority of villagers migrate to Bir after trudging more than 75 km in Baijnath subdistrict, near Palampur town, some 250 km from the state capital Shimla. However, the old and sick prefer to stay in the village.

Sheep and cattle rearing is the main occupation of the people who are nomads.

The election official since most trekking routes leading to Bara Bhangal are hampered due to winter snow, the helicopter is the only mode of transportation to reach there. Bara Bhangal is accessible on foot through the Thamsar Pass, located at an altitude of 4,700 metres.

Bara Bhangal is part of the Dhauladhar Wildlife Sanctuary, which is spread over 944 sq km at an altitude above 3,000 metres.

However, no politician has so far reached this tiny canvas.

The state ruling Congress has fielded its veteran and four-time Rajya Sabha MP Anand Sharma in his new battleground Kangra, the largest Lok Sabha constituency in terms of voters, against Rajiv Bhardwaj of the BJP, which ignored the sitting MP, Kishan Kapoor.

Polling for the four Lok Sabha seats in Himachal Pradesh -- Shimla (reserved), Kangra, Mandi and Hamirpur -- is scheduled for June 1.

--IANS

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