Rains may hamper ballot boxes transportation
KATHMANDU, June 28: As the Election Commission (EC) for the first time in the country's history is holding the local elections during the rainy season, the Meteorology Forecasting Division (MFD) has urged voters to be prepared for light to moderate rains on the day of the second phase elections on Wednesday.
MFD, a division under the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, has predicted light to moderate rainfalls will hit various districts of Provinces 1, 5 and 7 where the elections are being held. The division has predicted 10 mm to 30 mm rains in the three provinces.
"The weather will remain disturbed across the three provinces since early morning on Wednesday. The districts of Province 1 will be hit the hardest with rainfalls likely throughout the day," said MFD's meteorologist Sameer Shrestha. "Provinces 5 and 7 will also see rain in the morning, while it subsides in the afternoon and will pick up pace again in the evening."
According to him, hill areas of Provinces 5 and 7, including Gulmi, Rolpa, Pyuthan, Bajura, Bajhang, and Baitadi districts, will see heavy rainfall from Tuesday night to Wednesday morning.
This year, monsoon entered eastern Nepal on June 12, about two days later than usual.
Although the MFD had predicted early monsoon onset this year, it later admitted the failure of the prediction due to the effects of westerly wind.
Voters have been urged to be prepared for rains before heading for their nearest polling centers. However, in some of the far-flung districts like Taplejung, Achham, Rolpa and Darchula among others; no preparations would be sufficient as rainfalls increase the risk of landslides and also make the already dangerous cliff paths slippery and very risky to walk on.
The occurrence of landslides is common in hilly areas during monsoons, while districts in the southern plains also sustain human causalities due to floods. Such water-induced natural disasters have been claiming lots of lives during monsoon every year.
Some voters in remote areas of those provinces need to walk the dangerous paths for hours even to reach their nearest polling center. And for them, utilizing the rights to cast votes and participate in the historic event would also be taking a big gamble on life.
Monsoon rains are not only likely to affect the elections, but also transportation of ballot boxes from polling centers to its respective local units, where the votes will be counted.
MFD has the capacity to forecast the weather for three days, and expects ample rainfall in those provinces in all three days.
"Our forecast modules show that chances of rains are high in the three days. Although light to moderate rainfalls are likely throughout these days, heavy rainfalls will take place mostly during the nights," informed another meteorologist Bibhuti Pokharel, adding that western regions will experience heavy rainfall.
EC has already instructed election officers to set up polling centers keeping the rains in mind. Likewise, EC has instructed concerned authorities to make sure that voters' hands are dry before they cast their votes so that the ballot papers do not get damaged.