Hassan: It’s not apathy that keeps voters away from polling booths in parts of Madikeri and Hassan, but fear of elephants. Around a 100 polling booths identified by forest officials in these parts are on alert to ward off any threat from straying elephants and make sure that people are able to come out and vote on May 12.
Located in areas that see regular movement of elephants, the booths are said to be under threat not so much from herds of elephants as from lone roaming tuskers that often attack people.
While Alur taluk has 29 polling booths vulnerable to elephant attack, Saklesphur has 40, and Virajpet, 25. A survey is being done in Somawarpet and in Madikeri to identify their booths that could be under threat from the jumbos too, Deputy Conservator of Forests, Maria Christu Raja of Virajpet division says the department will deploy more personnel on polling day to drive away any elephants that may be spotted in the vicinity of the polling booths.
But Assistant Conservator of Forests of Alur, Harish, says its hard to predict where the elephants will come from. “We do not know from where the elephants may come on polling day. They may come from Kodagu, Sakleshpur, Doddabetta, Nagavara or anywhere else. We need to keep tracking them to ensure smooth voting,” he adds.
The extension of voting time by an hour has added to the woes of forest officials in the region because elephants usually emerge from the jungles after dusk. Laments a forest official , “ Even after the deadline for voting ends at 6 pm, many voters could still be in the queue and by the time they finish voting and election officials complete their duties, it could be dark!”...