70-odd families in Kuthirakkoorkari, a small hamlet in Chellanam panchayat, got a neighbourhood booth, sparing them the trouble of having to travel to Kannamali.
Ninety-year-old Mariam Michael will go down in the annals of the electoral history of Kuthirakkoorkari, a small hamlet in Chellanam panchayat.
When she cast the vote at booth number 112 at Little Flower English Medium School, located at the end of a narrow earthen path winding through a picturesque landscape flanked by backwaters, Mariam became the maiden voter in the first ever booth to be set up at Kuthirakkoorkari.
In keeping with the significance of the occasion, she was received with a bouquet by a child. It was a dream come true for 70-odd families in the locality who had had to depend on vehicles deployed by political parties to go to the polling booth near Kannamali police station till the previous election. With that hurdle out of the way, more than half of the voters cast their votes within hours of Mariam’s vote.
“We have been spared the discomfort in voting, thanks to the mass contact programme of the Chief Minister,” said Paulose, a local resident. But their woes are far from over with basic facilities like a surfaced road and uninterrupted drinking water still remaining a distant dream.
With the sole ferry service suspended more than two years ago, the residents now have to travel more than 3 km to reach Palluruthy Veli or almost 2.5 km to reach Kattiparambil on the other side. While men used their two-wheelers, women and children often found it hard to traverse this stretch.
“Autorickshaw drivers charge up to Rs. 120 for a trip from Veli to Kuthirakkoorkari. The road was in bad shape till crushed rocks were spread on the road about a month ago and before that not even autorickshaw drivers were willing to ply here,” said Justin.
Drinking water, however, remains the biggest problem with tanker lorries remaining the sole means of supply. “Each family is entitled to just three cans of water in a day and many families have to walk considerable distance to even collect that, as the tanker does not operate beyond a point,” said Shaji.
Water supplied through pipelines drawn by the Kerala Water Authority doesn’t reach households, as the pressure of pumping tapers down by the time it reaches the place located towards the fag end of the pumping network, he said.
People now hope that just as their dream for a polling booth in their neighbourhood eventually materialised, a proper road and uninterrupted water supply would also become a reality at least by the time of the next election.