The efforts of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) and the State Election Commission to increase voter turnout by setting up polling booths in housing societies are being met with resistance.
Out of the 110 big housing societies to which the civic body had written seeking cooperation in setting up polling booths on their ground floor or stilt parking area,only 35 have replied showing willingness to do so.
For the first time,the Maharashtra poll panel has decided to set up booths in housings societies that have over 1,000 residents. The move was aimed at increasing voter turnout among middle class voters and reduce the number of non-ground floor booths. An officer from the BMCs election department said the civic body had started writing to housing societies more than a month back,but the response is slow. We are hoping to receive more confirmations over the next two weeks. Some societies have been very cooperative. For instance,the Navjivan Society in Tardeo responded immediately saying they want polling booths on their premises, he said.
However,many housing societies,including those housing former municipal employees,are against the idea of polling booths in their buildings.
Jal Sanidhya,a housing society on land leased by the BMC in 1971 at Worli Naka,opposed the BMCs request of setting up five booths in their stilt parking area citing parking issues.
Members later decided to give space to set up three booths instead of five.
The SEC has directed the BMC to decrease the number of voters per booth from 1,500 to 1,200 thereby increasing number of booths to 8,416 across 2,056 locations. The total number of eligible voters in the city has jumped from 83 lakh in 2007 elections to 1 crore 38 thousand for the election that will take place on February 16.
While the voter turnout was a dismal 35 per cent last elections,the civic body hopes to attract a better number this year. The cost of holding the has also jumped from Rs 20 crore in the last elections to over Rs 35 crore this time.