Even 10 years after the first police-Naxalite encounter, Eedu residents’ await basic amenities

People of the Naxalite-affected village of Eedu, about 68 km from Udupi, feel let down by politicians as their long-pending demands of roads and a bridge over the Suvarna have not been met. As a result, enthusiasm is lacking for the May 5 Assembly polls here.

This obscure village shot into prominence after two suspected naxalites were killed in the first police-naxalite encounter in Udupi district on November 17, 2003.

Immediately after the encounter, politicians made a beeline here, making promises to the people. Nearly 10 years later, there is very little progress and the residents feel betrayed.

Appi Poojarti (65), in whose house the encounter took place, said a road from Bolottu area of the village to the nearby Naravi village was an immediate requirement. It was very difficult for the people to travel during the rainy season. “All politicians promised to develop the road. But nothing happened. I am sceptical of politicians doing anything soon,” she said.

Ms. Poojarti has a two-and-a-half-acre land where she and her family members cultivate paddy and areca nut. Since this income is not enough, her elder son, Yashodhara, works as a manger at a hotel in Mumbai and her second son, Prashanth, runs a poultry shop in Eedu.

The family is building a new house in place of the old one after availing loans by pledging their land. “Politicians, who had promised to help us build the house, simply do not remember it any longer,” she said.

Neelayya Poojary, a farmer who grows areca nut on his half-acre land, also works as an agricultural worker. He said in medical emergencies, people have to carry the patients as there is no motorable road, during the monsoon. After waiting for 10 years, the village had got only half-a-kilometre of road. The sluice gates of a vented dam had got damaged about a year ago, but has not been repaired. “We are disappointed with the politicians,” he said.

Trapped

Another resident said a team of naxalites had visited the village about two months ago. The personnel of the Anti-Naxalite Force (ANF) and the police also visited the village regularly.

“We avoid stepping out of our houses at night because of the fear of naxalites. We feel trapped between the fight between the naxalites and the ANF,” Mr. Neelayya Poojary said.

Yogish Poojary, who works as an electrician, said a bridge over the Suvarna rivulet was an “absolute necessity”. It is only in the summer that the water-level in the rivulet goes down, and people and vehicles can cross it. “Politicians have kept on promising us for the last five years but have not taken any action on constructing the bridge,” he said.

Jyoti, an anganwadi teacher, said since there is no bridge, the Matadakopla area of the village is cut off from Bolottu area by the Suvarna. Since the anganwadi is located in Bolottu, children attending the anganwadi have to take a circuitous route of more than 4 km to reach it.

“We have to walk this distance too and fro daily during the rainy season. The bridge is of vital importance. Imagine the plight of the people during emergencies,” Ms. Jyoti said.

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