Port Blair, April 18: All arrangements have been completed by the Election Machinery for the Lok Sabha Poll -2024 in A&N Islands. The Andaman & Nicobar Islands Parliamentary Constituency is going to Polls in the first phase of Election and Polling will be held from 7 am to 6 pm tomorrow (April 19), informed the Chief Electoral Officer, A&N Islands Parliamentary Constituency, Shri B. S. Jaglan, IAS while interacting with the mediapersons in the conference hall of Secretariat here today. The CEO also appealed to all the eligible voters to participate in the democratic process celebrating the ‘Election Festival’ with the tagline ‘Chunav Ka Parv- Desh Ka Garv’.

Giving details of the arrangements made for the conduct of poll tomorrow (April 19), the CEO informed that the Andaman & Nicobar Islands Parliamentary Constituency covers 3 districts and 9 Tehsils with Polling Stations spread over Urban and Rural areas. The important components/aspects for the smooth conduct of Election viz. Electoral Roll, Manpower requirement, EVMs, transportation of men and material to the Polling Stations and Communication Network Plan have been completed with precision.

The CEO said, Twelve (12) candidates are in the fray for election to the lone Lok Sabha Seat in A&N Islands Parliamentary Constituency. As per the Electoral roll finalized on March 27, 2024, a total number of 3,15,148 electors will exercise their franchise for the General Election 2024. The number of male electors is 1,64,012 while 1,51,132 are female electors. The number of third gender is 04. This time the number of female electors has increased leading to improvement in gender ratio which stands at 921 compared to 886 in the Elections in 2019. With increased awareness creation through SVEEP activities, the number of young electors in the age of 18-19 years has gone up to 5,319 while the number of electors in the age group of 20-29 years is 65,706. The number of electors in the age group of 30-79 years is 2,41,332 while the number of electors in the age 85+ is 1,037 and the number of PwDs is 2,422.

He stated that there are 412 Polling Stations spread over A&N Islands while the number of PS location is 346. The number of Polling Station in South Andaman is 223 while in N&M Andaman is 132 and 57 in Nicobar District. This time, the total no. of sensitive Polling Stations in ANIPC is 60 while critical Polling Stations are 27. The number of Isolated Polling Stations which has issues in access is 45. As per a new initiative, webcasting has been arranged in 206 Polling Stations which comes to 50 percent out of the total 412 Polling Stations spread over the ANIPC. These 206 Polling Stations will be monitored 24X7 live from the Control Room of District Office viz. pre-poll day, poll day and day after poll and these also include isolated, critical Polling Stations.

805 Control Units, 805 Ballot Units and 844 VVPATs have been commissioned which will be used in the Election.

The CEO also remarked that the uniqueness of the Election in ANIPC is that a total of 09 Polling Stations will be managed by All Women Members and it will be known as Pink Polling Booths. JNRM College, GMSSS Ferrargunj and GMS Netaji Nagar in South Andaman have been declared as All Women Polling Stations and it will be managed by all women members. In North & Middle    Andaman, GPS Madhupur, Panchayat Bhawan Lucknow and GSSS Rangat and in Nicobar District, District Library Perka, GPS Chota Inaka, GPS Jetty Bazaar Campbell Bay have been declared as women managed Polling Stations. He said, the number of Model Polling Stations is 10 with good ambience. VHF & Satellite phones have been made available for seamless transmission of polling data in areas wherever mobile network is not available.

He further informed that in ANIPC, there are 13 Polling Stations, in which the no. of electors are below 100 and out of these 13 Polling Station, 3 are in South Andaman. The Smallest Polling Stations with regard to elector is Pilopatia with 12 votes while the no. of voters in Polling Station Lawful Bay is 14 in Nicobar District. There are 3 PVTGs whose names are there in electoral roll, out of which, the no. of  electors from Shompen Tribe is 98, from Onge Tribe 68  and 39 are from Great  Andamanese Tribe. These PVTGs will participate in the democratic process on 19.04.2024.

The CEO elaborated that altogether, 2,384 Polling personnel and 3,000 Police Personnel besides, six Coys of CAPF have been engaged for the smooth conduct of Polling on April 19, 2024 in ANIPC. Extra force including CAPF has also been deployed at the identified critical, isolated and sensitive Polling Stations in ANIPC. 72 Micro-observers have also been deployed at these Polling Station in addition to arrangement of webcasting. He said, 6,517 Election Duty Certificates have been issued to the Polling Personnel and other staff engaged in Election Duty to enable them to cast their vote at their place of duty itself. The dispatch of Polling Parties and Poll Materials for the 9 Tehsils in all the 3 districts have been completed and the Polling Parties have reached their respective Polling Booths for the smooth conduct of Election on April 19.

The CEO stated that April 19 will be a Paid Holiday, the notification for which has been issued. The Polling Day and the Counting Day have been declared ‘Dry Days’ in the entire A&N Islands.

Further, the CEO informed that Assured Minimum Facilities (AMF) as per the guidelines of the ECI has been arranged at all the Polling Stations which include drinking water facilities, proper shades for the voters in queue, toilet facilities, provision of Ramp etc. The AMF has been devised in such a way so as to enable the voters to exercise their franchise comfortably and to facilitate their participation in the democratic process in a big way. He added that pick up and drop for senior citizens and PwDs as per laid down ECI mechanism have been arranged. During the Poll Day, if Senior Citizens or PwDs, who couldn’t cast their votes through Postal Ballot and require any assistance they can contact the BLOs of their respective Polling Booth and in turn the BLOs will facilitate them for voting by taking up the matter with Election Officials available in the field.

The CEO also informed that Senior Citizens and PwDs voters can register themselves in ‘Shaksham App’ brought out by the ECI for assistance with regard to Wheelchairs and pick up & drop facility. Special queue has been earmarked for the senior citizens and PwD voters to enable them to cast their votes without any hindrance /problem.

The CEO informed that all out efforts have been made to create maximum awareness among the voters to participate in Electoral process and come out in large numbers to exercise their franchise so that this time voter percentage increases in ANIPC compared to the last Lok Sabha Election. The CEO also acknowledged the contribution of media fraternity in conveying the message about importance of voting. SVEEP activities were organized by the Election Department for different sections of people viz. senior citizens 85 plus, first time voters, students, PwDs and women. Due to continuous effort, the Election Department received request for Postal Ballot from 436 persons, out of which, 424 people exercised their franchise through Home Voting and used their Right to vote. The number of Electronically Transmitted Postal Ballot (ETPB) is 597, out of which, 27-28 votes have been received so far and it will be received up to 8am on the Day of Counting i.e. June 4, 2024.

In her address, the State Police Nodal Officer, A&N Islands, Ms Monika Bhardwaj, IPS, informed that elaborate arrangements have been made by A&N Police for the smooth conduct of Polling in ANIPC. She informed that proper security arrangements have been put in place in all the Polling Stations and 46 Nakas (Barricades) covering all the Districts have been set up and seizure of prohibited articles is continuing and checking will further intensify. She further disclosed about the seizure of cash of Rs. 36.58 lakhs, 3.803 Kgs of drugs amounting to Rs 2.01 crores and destruction of 7675 litres of Lehen till date.

As per the instruction of the Election Commission of India, no cellular (mobile)/cordless/wireless phone sets will be allowed inside the Polling Stations and also in the 100 meters perimeter of Polling Stations by the voters while exercising their franchise in order to maintain secrecy of voting process. The voters of the Andaman & Nicobar Islands Parliamentary Constituency have been requested not to carry any such gadgets with them to the Polling Station to obviate any last minute inconvenience.

The ECI appointed General Observer, Shri BN Singh, IAS, Election Expenditure Observer, Shri Satyajit Mandal and Police Observer, Shri Ravi Joseph Lokku, IPS for ANIPC will observe the entire Election Process.

Special Voter discount on food items has also been made available by the Hotel and restaurant owners in their Hotels and restaurants spread across the A&N Islands to increase the voter participation on the Polling Day.

The Chief Electoral Officer, ANI, Shri B S Jaglan, IAS has appealed to all voter especially first time voter and women voters to cast their vote in big way and be the flag bearer of democracy. “Our Islands are ready to celebrate ‘Chunav Ka Parv- Desh Ka Garv’ in letter and spirit”, he said.