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‘Green warriors’ keep polling booths spick and span

help elderly, disabled voters in Kerala

Adhering to green protocol, the Haritha Karma Sena workers have to ensure that the polling booths and surroundings are free of plastic and other waste materials.

Haritha Karma Sena workeTHIRUVANANTHAPURAM: An empty plastic water bottle rolled through the verandah barely touching the feet of impatient voters lined up in front of Booth No 44 located at Government High School, Kachani, in Thiruvananthapuram.

As the bottle, discarded carelessly by someone in the queue came to a halt, the voters looked at it with a blank expression.

After many minutes, a tall woman emerged, wearing a green overcoat with ‘Haritha Karma Sena’ (HKS) written in white. She looked at the voters who quickly shifted their gaze elsewhere.

Some of them wore the ‘It’s not mine’ expression on their faces. With a smile, she picked up the plastic bottle and dropped it in a bin kept nearby.

Sindhu O is among the thousands of HKS workers who were deployed across the 25,231 polling booths in the state on polling day on April 26.

According to Additional Chief Secretary (Local Self Government) Sarada Murlaeedharan, the services of HKS workers were utilised in a limited manner in the previous assembly election but this time around, they have been deployed extensively across the state.

“Haritha Karma Sena workers are now present in almost all local body wards in the state. Owing to their expertise in scientifically handling waste, their services were effectively utilised in the election, especially in properly managing election waste,” the official said.

The task of HKS workers requisitioned on the instructions of the District Collectors, is cut out on polling day. Adhering to green protocol, they have to ensure that the polling booths and surroundings are free of plastic and other waste materials.

“We are familiar with all the voters here due to the door to door waste collection that we undertake periodically. Some of them drop the waste materials in the bin on seeing us here but some discard things including the voter slips here and there after voting,” she said.

Though not part of their brief, the HKS workers were also seen assisting elderly and differently-abled voters. “You can skip the line and go inside the booth,” Sindhu instructed a tired-looking elderly man who was leaning on the wall of the building, awaiting his turn to vote.

The real task of HKS workers began after voting came to a close well beyond polling hours in some booths. At a booth in Aruvikkara, they were seen busy collecting a huge pile of, mostly discarded polling materials, These would have otherwise been discarded in the school premises causing further headache for the local bodies.

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