Poor facilities, unsanitary conditions: Poll workers brace for tough conditions



Tribune News Service

Manmeet Singh Gill

Amritsar, May 31

At 9 am on Friday, around 20,000 personnel assigned to duty at various polling stations gathered at the Training and Dispatch Centre to collect the EVMs, marking the start of a gruesome 48 hours of election work that will see them remain in their respective booths.

Villagers reach out

  • Most of the booths are set up in government schools where the condition of toilets is deplorable.
  • These employees may not be able to take a bath on Election Day unless they make their own arrangements.
  • Conditions in rural schools are similarly poor, but staff are relatively satisfied due to support from villagers.

Most of the polling stations are located in government schools, but the toilet conditions are deplorable – they only have urinals, meaning poll workers have to take a bath on polling day unless they make their own arrangements.

“The condition of the toilets is deplorable, we cannot enter them. There is no cleanliness,” said an official at the BLS school in Vijay Nagar. He also said that old mattresses are being given to them. “We are not even given beds and there is no point in asking for coolers,” he said.

Another employee at Ajayi Public School in Tumbala area narrated a similar story. “We don’t even get cold drinking water. The whole talk about proper preparations being made for the elections is a farce,” he said.

CRPF soldiers on duty at the polling booth set up on the Khalsa Women’s College grounds said they had to ask multiple times for drinking water, after which they were given a water cooler. “We come from Delhi, so we are well prepared. Here, we had to ask for fans, as the place was cleaned after we came,” said a woman CRPF personnel.

In rural areas, the condition of schools is similarly poor, but staff are relatively satisfied. A female GMC staff member posted in Ajnala district said, “When we arrived here, villagers offered us tea with sweets. Later, they brought us ‘sherbet’. They will also be serving us dinner. Some of them have even let us stay at their homes at night as the condition of the schools is not good.”

“The villagers gave us cots and sent us bedding. People in rural areas are very generous towards election workers,” said a public school teacher.

“This is why officials use connections and fake medical certificates to get exempt from voting duty. Election duty is the most frightening thing in a civil servant’s life,” said Satpal Singh, a retired teacher.

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