Saturday, April 04, 2009

50 polling vehicles to have GPS tracking

5 Apr 2009, 0348 hrs IST, Soumittra S Bose, TNN

NAGPUR: Gadchiroli district administration, fearing Naxal interference in the polling process, is planning to ensure that maximum vehicles operating
in the highly-sensitive zones are equipped with Global Positioning System (GPS). District collector Atul Patne, also the returning officer, is planning to ensure a fleet of 50 vehicles with GPS facility during the polling period, especially those operating from the base camps which would be earmarked as highly vulnerable.

Apart from 15 GPS sets already present for the land measurement, the district administration aims at bringing in the ones that are in use in the police department. “There could be situations where the polling vehicles may come under siege or are hijacked. We should be in a position to know the location of such vehicles in case any untoward incident takes place,” said Patne. Patne is also planning to request police department to ensure their wireless communication system is extended to the 56 booths of the remote areas where connectivity is almost non-existent.

The plan of the district administration may, however, face some technical hurdles. “The efficiency of the tracking system depends on mobile phone signal connectivity. In remote areas, the GPS plan may face some hiccups as GPRS (General Packet Radio Service) may not work without mobile phone connectivity. Though GPRS is not the only option for the GPS to work, it is considered to be cheaper than other means,” said a senior police official.

Meanwhile, Patne said a decision has been taken to relocate around 15 polling booths in some of the heavily-affected villages where Naxal presence may pose a serious challenge to polling. An additional polling booth has been also decided to be set up at Charwahi in Gadchiroli to ensure that the villagers do not have to travel far to cast their ballot. The numbers of polling booths in the Gandchiroli-Chimur constituency would now be 839. There is also a plan to send polling parties through helicopters to sensitive polling stations.

Patne, who is to call for a co-ordination meeting of the senior officials of the police and district administration on April 6 next week, has complained of hardship to get the required numbers of vehicles needed for polling duty.
“I hope government vehicles would be available for Nasik and Marathwada divisions where election is in the later phase,” said Patne, who is also planning to open up to the option of inducting private vehicles for the polling duty too.

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