The bypolls for the lone Lok Sabha seat in Nagaland and an Assembly seat in Meghalaya saw a high turnout of voters on Monday. At least 75% of 11,97,436 voters in Nagaland and 90.42% of 24,181 voters in Meghalaya’s Ampati seat cast their votes.Voting in Nagaland was peaceful barring a mob attack on the 13-Kubza polling station in Mokokchung district. “Seven persons were arrested after a large mob overpowered the polling personnel and vandalised the polling booth. Re-polling will be needed there,” the State’s chief electoral officer Abhijit Sinha said.“The final polling figure will be known tomorrow [Tuesday] morning after reports from remote areas come in. As of now, we recorded 75% polling,” he added.The Nagaland LS seat fell vacant in February after Neiphiu Rio resigned to contest the Assembly election as a candidate of the Nationalist Democratic Progressive Party (NDPP), which formed an alliance with the BJP. He is now the Chief Minister. The contest for the Nagaland LS seat is between NDPP candidate Tokheho Yepthomi and C. Apok Jamir of the Naga People’s Front, a former BJP ally now backed by long-time rival Congress.The bypoll for Ampati was necessitated by former Chief Minister Mukul M Sangma, who had won from two seats, vacating it and retaining the Songsak seat. His daughter Miani D Shira hopes to retain the seat for the Congress.
Close to a 1,000 people turned up at Bongaigaon town’s Gandhi Maidan on Tuesday to be the first to trade a kilo of plastic for a sapling and a cloth bag. A 70-year-old woman beat them all to make an ecological statement.Bongaigaon, the headquarters of Bongaigaon district, is about 180 km west of Guwahati.Renuka Roy Choudhury had a reason to be the first to deposit the plastic from her house in a plastic bank set up by the Bongaigaon Municipal Board — to send a message that the older generations have to take the lead in undoing the damage done to the environment.“We have enough saplings in the Social Forestry nurseries, but brought 200 for the ‘plants-for-plastic’ exchange programme. The overwhelming response made us realise we brought too few,” the district’s Deputy Commissioner Adil Khan said.Ms. Choudhury and the 199 others were given saplings of gooseberry, olive, mango, jackfruit, mahogany and other local species of trees for a total of 200 kilos of plastic deposited. Each of them also received a cloth bag manufactured by local women’s self-help groups.Each of these bags can withstand more than 2 kg of weight.Mr. Khan said those who missed out on a sapling on Tuesday would be provided with one later. “We will continue with the programme till the town is free of single-use plastic. The plastic bank will be open at the Municipal Board’s office for anyone to deposit a kilo of plastic and get a sapling in return,” he said.Banana barkThe Social Forestry wing of the Assam Forest Department pitched in with innovation too. Officials replaced black polythene bags with the bark of banana plants for holding the saplings. These were tied with jute threads.The district administration had, ahead of the ‘plants for plastic’ drive, discussed an alternative to the polythene sapling bags with Divisional Forest Officer Abdel Salam Arief. Forester Lakhi Nath came up with the banana bark idea.The Bongaigaon district administration said the drive would perhaps not have been possible without the involvement of a green group called Robin Hood Army. Its volunteers facilitated the exchange programme.