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Kandhamal residents in a dilemma

March 20, 2009 18:57 IST

With Lok Sabha and assembly elections in Orissa less than a month away, the authorities have worked out a plan to enable people, who fled their villages after the riots in Kandhamal district, to vote.
    
Nearly seven months after the communal flare up erupted in the district following the killing of Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Laxmanananda Saraswati and his four disciples, hundreds of traumatised people are yet to return home.
    
Some had migrated to other places in the state while others are in relief camps set up by the district administration.
    
Altogether 3,174 people are still in six relief camps at K Nuagaon, Tikabali, Raikia and Udayagiri blocks, official sources said. Questions were being raised that if the people did not return home, how would they be able to vote.
    
"We have prepared a plan to enable them to vote and submitted it to the Election Commission for approval," Kandhamal district collector Kishan Kumar said. "We are also trying to persuade people in the relief camps to return to their respective villages," another senior district official said.

Kumar, however, did not spell out the details of the proposal. "I can't say as it is yet to be approved," he said.
    
The matter was expected to be discussed with the Election Commission before a decision was taken, sources
said.
    
Kumar said the Election Commission has permitted issue of duplicate photo-identity cards to those who had lost
them during the riots. "We have asked the people to apply for duplicate photo identity cards in block offices," the collector said. Around 2,500 people have been identified so far for issue of duplicate ID cards in the district, he said.
    
After the delimitation exercise three assembly segments in Kandhamal -- Phulbani, Baliguda and Udayagiri -- have been
reserved for the scheduled tribes.
    
Women voters outnumber men in the tribal dominated district with the figures standing at 2,21,120 and 2,13,388
respectively.

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