Arunachal’s Porters – Vital Links Between Polling Parties, Electors

A remnant of the British Raj, the Auxiliary Labour Corps (ALCs), also known as porters, still act as vital links between election personnel and people in Arunachal Pradesh as they are tasked with carrying polling materials, ration items and transporting EVMs to remote areas of the mountainous state, officials said. Around 3,000 ALCs are being deployed this time to assist polling parties to reach 228 booths in the state, which are almost inaccesible they said.

“We are dependent on them to transport election materials to inaccessible polling stations where foot march is required,” Chief Electoral Officer Pawan Kumar Sain said.

Trekking the rugged and almost inaccessible terrains of the state, ALCs serve as a bridge between the government and the people and ensure that the polling process goes smoothly, Joint Chief Electoral Officer Liken Koyu said.

The ALCs were first appointed by the British to carry materials. After Arunachal Pradesh attained statehood in 1987, the regular appointment of ALCs was stopped. They are now recruited temporarily.

Services of ALCs are required at the time of transporting public distribution system (PDS) materials and opening new administrative centres during polls, Koyu said.

In 2019, the election office hired 2,100 ALCs, while 1,400 were deployed during the 2014 elections, the officials said.

“Around 3,000 ALCs will be inducted this time to assist polling personnel in 228 polling stations in the state,” he said Besides, casual labourers would also be deployed to assist election personnel.

The ALCs are being deployed by the respective district election officers (DEO), depending on the requirement, Koyu added.

Declaration of results gets delayed in several seats as EVMs are transported by ALCs to the counting centres, which generally involves more than three days of arduous trekking.

Arunachal Pradesh has 228 remote and almost-inaccessible polling stations, where election officials have to undertake extensive journeys on foot.

Of these, 61 will require a two-day walk, while seven will need three-day trekking.

In response to the logistical challenges, the state election machinery has planned to deploy a minimum of four ALCs for each of the 228 polling stations, Koyu said, acknowledging the pivotal role the unsung heroes play in facilitating the democratic process in the state.

Arunachal Pradesh will go to simultaneous polls for two Lok Sabha and 60 assembly constituencies on April 19.

Counting of votes for assembly polls would be held on June 2 and for Lok Sabha on June 4.

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