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Tribal paintings adorn polling booths in Odisha’s Gajapati

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BERHAMPUR (ODISHA), April 17: In a bid to promote the elections as a festival of democracy among tribal people, the Gajapati district administration has adorned polling booths with idital, a unique painting of the Souras, a particularly vulnerable tribal group (PVTG) in Odisha.

“When people to go polling booths on May 13 to cast their votes, they will find their own painting in polling stations,” a senior official said.

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Saura and Lanjia Soura communities traditionally embellish their homes and villages with murals during festivals and ceremonies, including marriages.

Polling booths have been primarily set up in schools in PVTG-inhabited areas. Additionally, the administration has also roped Soura people to create awareness about voting through the tribal language.

This initiative is part of the SVEEP (Systematic Voters’ Education and Electoral Participation) programme aimed at attracting voters to booths and increasing the turnout, an official said.

“The aim of setting up ethnic booths is to attract tribals, who seldom exercise their franchise and remain busy with their routine work, to vote”, said Birendra Kumar Das, additional district magistrate-cum-returning officer, Mohana assembly segment in the district.

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Most of the Soura and its sub-group Lanjia Soura people live in Mohana and Gumma blocks of Gajapati district. Their population is over 33,000 (Soura-18,600 and Lanjia Soura-14,670), spread over two assembly segments – Mohana, reserved for the Scheduled Caste, and Paralakhemundi under Berhampur Lok Sabha constituency.

“The administration has decided to set up 33 ethnic booths, which will be managed by the polling personnel of tribal communities,” he said.

Meanwhile, a team of officers is raising awareness in remote villages to enhance voter turnout.

According to sources, the polling percentages in Mohana and Paralakhemundi were 75.65 per cent and 69.31 per cent, respectively, in the 2019 elections. (PTI)

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