Publication: The Week

How Punjab's Anandpur Sahib shows the way by holding eco-friendly polls

Published Date: 21-May-2024

Amidst the political and climatic heat during the ongoing Lok Sabha elections, general observer of Anandpur Sahib in Punjab has taken up the mantle of making the polling in his constituency "eco-friendly". For this, the parliamentary segment is planning to hand out saplings to voters on the day of polling among other steps.    

This is in line with the directions of the Election Commission to ensure "environmentally sustainable elections" even though hardly any parliamentary seat on which the votes have been cast so far showed any signs of significantly adhering to the EC’s environmental mandate. 

Taking ‘eco-friendly’ elections as seriously as other aspects of conducting elections, general observer of Anandpur constituency, Punjab, Dr Hira Lal is undertaking 'Green Planning' in his jurisdiction, as part of which 'Green booths' would be set up at the polling stations.

"In consonance with the motto of Green Elections, we are urging the candidates of all political parties to plant a sapling every day before going for campaigning," Dr. Hira Lal told The WEEK. "We will be setting up Green Booths on polling stations where we will distribute saplings to people and encourage them to plant more and more trees to neutralise the carbon footprint generated due to the polling exercise."     

"They can take the saplings to their farms and houses and plant them," he said. 

Dr Lal, who is presently posted as the Special Secretary, Irrigation & Water Resources Department, Uttar Pradesh, said they will try to make the Anandpur Sahib constituency in Mohali the model of green elections in the country. 

On May 17, Dr. Lal held a meeting with all district election officers, police representatives, returning officers and others to chalk out the layout of green elections in his segment. "We have asked all involved to plant maximum trees and ensure minimum use of single-use plastic during training, dispatch and collection of EVMs," said Lal. "Our slogan is free, fair, transparent and environmentally-friendly election process. On our end, the government staff engaged in the election arrangements have been asked to be ambassadors of 'Green Elections'.  

Dr. Hira Lal gained popularity in 2019 after he played an instrumental role in increasing the voter turnout by 10.5 per cent in the Lok Sabha elections by using innovative methods as the district magistrate at Banda in Uttar Pradesh. "Efforts are on to identify the causes of higher voter turnouts from experiences of past elections and take the necessary steps to bring more and more people out of their homes to exercise their right," said Lal, who also received several accolades for bringing dry Bundelkhand’s Banda region out of water scarcity through various water conservation efforts. 

"I am not doing anything that has not been asked of me. It is in the EC’s guidelines to make the elections eco-friendly. This should be done in other constituencies as well," adds Dr. Lal.

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