Reaching the polling stations in Lunana

The highland community of Lunana in Gasa is the most remote gewog located above 3,400 metres. The transmigration practices of the residents make it challenging for polling officials to reach them during elections.

The community has the second highest registered voters in the dzongkhag and has played a crucial role in deciding the results in past parliamentary elections. Most candidates considered the votes from the gewog as the tiebreaker.

Owing to the transmigration practices of the place, the dzongkhag election office has a mobile polling station in Raminang and Rakashong that caters to the same group of voters from Raminang chiwog.

There are 60 registered voters at the chiwog. Voters from Raminang are in Rakashong at this time of the year with their herds and will move down to Raminang in winter.

This group of voters will cast their vote today at Rakashong while they will be back to their winter place in Raminang for the general round next month.

Lunana has four polling stations in Thangza, Wachey, Lhedi, and Raminang catering the 529 voters of Khamed-Lunana constituency.

It would take more than a week on foot to reach those polling stations from the dzongkhag headquarters. However, the use of helicopter for the officials on election duty has shortened the journey to less than 50 minutes.

The highest point of the polling station is at Thangza. The polling station at Wachey chiwog requires more than fours of walk crossing a pass between Lhedi and Wachey.

To assist the polling officials with medical aid while on election duty, the dzongkhag election office assigns at least one medical official for the polling stations that need to be reached on foot.

The officials on duty have to overcome altitude sickness and other high altitude inconveniences to reach the assigned polling stations. There are three health staff at the three polling stations of Thangza, Wachey, and Rakashong on election duty.

The polling officials flew to Lunana on September 9 and there are more than 20 polling officials excluding the security personnel. It took three trips to reach all officials to the gewog.

The Royal Bhutan Helicopter Service Limited charges the same fare for the officials on election duty that it charges the people of Lunana, which is Nu 58,000 for a trip from Paro to Lunana.

The dzongkhag election office had been using the helicopter service since 2008. It has hired from Nepal and India until the launch of RBHSL in 2015.

More than 40 polling officials are on duty at 12 polling stations located in two constituencies of Khatoed-Laya and Khamed-Lunana in Gasa. Gasa has 2,064 registered voters, the least among the dzongkhags but 64 more than the voters for the national council election held earlier in April.

Nima | Gasa

 

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