Bhubaneswar: The state government has vowed to make all polling booths in the state accessible to the differently-abled so that they can exercise their power to cast their votes in the upcoming general elections.
The state department of Social Security and Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities (SSEPD) has now planned to ensure facilitation of ramps and other tools for hassle-free experience of differently-abled voters living in the state.
In a recent review meeting with the Chief Secretary, the SSEPD Secretary informed that procurement of wheelchairs would be done based on requirement. Those will be provided at all polling stations as part of accessibility measures for the differently-abled. He also said that the district-wise requirement would be communicated to the state election commission office.
The Panchayati Raj and Drinking Water Department has also reported to have chipped in to ensure that all stations are equipped with ramps and hand rails with the prescribed gradient. According to the 2011 Census, 1,244,402 people in Odisha have some form of disability in different age groups.
The Election Commission (ECI), in its recent briefing, had reiterated that polling booths would be made accessible to all. The ECI had promised that two personnel will be deployed at each booth for assisting differently-abled voters while transportation facilities could also be given to them so that they can cast their votes. On the other hand the ECI has promised that the EVM machines used in voting will have the option of Braille-activated buttons to help visually-impaired voters.
The other departments have also chipped in to ensure minimum required facilities for voters during elections. The Secretary of the Energy department, meanwhile, allegedly assured the Chief Secretary of providing temporary electrical connection to remaining 13934 polling stations by March 15 this year.
Other facilities like drinking water and waiting areas are also being worked out to take care of the needs of people from different walks of lives who are expected to converge at these polling stations to cast their vote in the coming months. This year Odisha is going to have 37,606 polling booths. Most of them are expected to abide by the minimum amenities like-ramps, drinking water, electricity, furniture, waiting room, communication, shadow area and toilets.