PunjabPolls | Kharar villagers walk kilometres to reach polling booths

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Because of lack of polling booths, residents of Masol village in the Kharar assembly constituency of the district had to walk 5 kilometres to cast their vote on Saturday when Punjab went to the polls.

The village, which lacks proper road connectivity, except a jeepable stretch construction on which started only in 2014, has no health dispensary as of now. The nearby towns from Masol are Kalka and Pinjore, both of which fall in the neighbouring state of Haryana.

Even children have to cross the Patiala Ki Rao to reach the local primary school as the seasonal rivulet flows right in the middle of the village. The locals are left with no choice but to walk or take a camel ride to reach nearby villages and towns. The village has nearly 300 votes. Masol came into limelight after a joint team of Indo-French scientists found one of the oldest fossils in the world on its outskirts.

“A team of polling officials came to the village on Friday and remained here for 2 hours and finally left, citing mobile network issues,” said Pritam Singh, a local resident.

Holding his voter card, he claimed to have ridden 7 kilometres on his camel to cast his vote. Election officials, however, claimed to have set up a polling booth 1.5 kilometres from the village. He said camels were the sole mode of transport till 2014 but some villagers have twowheelers now.

“The village has been ignored both by the government and the administration for long. Work on the approach road started only in 2014,” said Nek Singh, the village sarpanch.

“We want development in the village so that our children do not have to go to Kalka or Pinjore to pursue their studies,” said Karan Singh, a panchayat member. “No one listens to our problems. All we want is to be heard and given facilities such as regular water and electricity supply. The vote is the only means for us to change the fortunes of the village,” said Nirmal Singh, another resident.

Amninder Kaur Brar, returning officer-cum sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), Kharar, said, “The polling station was not set up in the village as it did not have many votes. We set up polling station that is 1.5 km from the village. We had even deputed a bus for transportation of the voters from village to polling station”. It is incorrect to say that the voters had to walk to more than 5 kilometers.