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January 2020
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Offbeat
When donkeys lent a helping hand to TN poll officials
 
Chennai: While GPS-fitted vehicles are deployed to transport poll materials like EVMs in the State, such technology or vehicles do not always help; especially when it comes to hilly terrains of Tamil Nadu to send across election paraphernalia.

Particularly, where there are no roads to reach hamlets on hill tops -leave alone motorable ones- the challenge is more pronounced and carrying EVMs, and control units within the stipulated time frame is no mean task.

A slew of such remote villages are spread across Tamil Nadu including those atop hills in the districts of Dharmapuri, Dindigul, Erode, Namakkal, and Theni with voters ranging between 300 and 1,100 in a given polling station.

Several booths in remote locations like Kottur in the Pennagaram region of Dharmapuri and hamlets on Bothamalai in Namakkal pose the challenge of rocky terrain too.

To surmount the challenge, poll officials loaded election materials -neatly packed in gunny bags- on donkeys and ponies and they carried some of the luggage on their heads to reach the designated polling stations and the ardous journey was in the range of 9 to 11 kilometers on the hills.

Vellakkevi and Pallathukadu in the Kodaikanal hill ranges (Dindigul), Kathiripatti (Erode) and Kedamalai (Namakkal) were among the hilly villages officials reached overcoming the challenges with the help of donkeys and ponies.

Also, some villages like Vellakkevi are located amid dense forests and poll officials were assisted by the anti-naxal police personnel to reach the hamlets.


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