Thursday, December 13, 2012

Special booths for relocated riverfront slum-dwellers

File photo of slums demolished for the Sabarmati Riverfront
DNA Correspondent

Slum-dwellers affected by the Sabarmati riverfront project might be struggling for basic necessities, but thanks to Election Commission of India (EC), they will be able to exercise their voting rights during the assembly polls in December.

Expeditious work by the commission has ensured their inclusion in the democratic process of electing people’s representatives. Around 19,000 voters have been enrolled and issued voting cards. Moreover, EC will also set up special booths for slum-dwellers near their relocation sites. Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) shas relocated more than 10,000 families from Sabarmati Riverfront to 20 colonies set up in different parts of the city. Following this, state political parties had expressed concerns over exclusion of around 20,000 voters from the electoral roll.

EC made special efforts to enroll voters who have been relocated due to riverfront development.

“We visited and revisited many households to get them enrolled in the electoral list,” said Vijay Nehra, district election officer (DEO) of Ahmedabad. Moreover, there are about 700-odd voters who have been allotted houses by AMC, but are yet to be included in electoral roll.

Rejecting reservations of the political parties, EC has allowed around 5,800 voters, who are yet to get houses, to vote in their previous constituency. These voters’ names had been cancelled from the electoral roll of the area they used to reside in.

“We had submitted a detailed report of the slum dwellers who did not get houses and whose names were cancelled from the old constituency. The Election Commission asked us to have pro-poor approach and allow them to exercise their franchise from the old constituency,” said Nehra.

A social worker, Bina Jadav, lauded the initiative to include slum dwellers in the election process. “As per our list, around 2,200 families are yet to get homes, but AMC does not accept them. The EC’s decision to allow 5,800 voters to vote from their old constituency indicates that these families were living there for long and should get justice,” she said.