Padukudru and Baligarkudru to boycott polls protesting against bad roads

People of Padukudru and Padukudru villages have decided to boycott the Assembly elections protesting against the apathy of political parties towards their long-pending demand for better road connectivity between the two villages.

The villages are home to around 1,000 people and comprise nearly 200 houses. The villages are part of the Kemmannu Gram Panchayat, which is a segment of the Udupi Assembly constituency.

People here are angry their grievance not been attended to by any political party over the last five years. The villagers have put up a big banner at the entrance of Padukudru, announcing their decision to boycott the elections.

The road in Padukudru is riddled with potholes, while nearly a 2 km-stretch leading to Baligarkudru is a ‘kucha’ road.

Bhaskar Puthran, a mason, said people had been demanding for a road from Padukudru to Baligarkudru for the last 13 years. The ‘kucha’ road is particularly dangerous during the monsoon. “We have approached the gram panchayat and all political parties. Except giving false promises during elections, politicians have done nothing,” he said.

Rajesh Belchetra, a coconut husker, said construction of a good road was necessary because the area is prone to flooding. “Nobody is interested in our welfare. Why should we vote? Even after the people put up the banner, no one has bothered to come and enquire about our grievances,” he said.

Keshav Karkera, an agricultural worker, said autorickshaw drivers refused to come to Baligarkudru because of bad road. “During emergencies, it is difficult to get a vehicle and move people. We will boycott the polls unless something is done about the road,” he said.

Prakash Bangera, fisherman, said he experienced a harrowing time cycling to work.

“The potholes are so deep that I ride my bicycle with great difficulty. Neither the gram panchayat nor the MLA has done anything for the road. We have also been demanding street lights,” he said.

M.T. Reju, Deputy Commissioner, told The Hindu that the administration would try to persuade people to participate in the elections. “Boycotting election is not a solution. Their demand could be looked into after the elections,” he said.

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