Even though the voters' list for ward 19 (Ponmana) in Panmana grama panchayat has 2,470 voters, the ward resembles a ghost town and those contesting from this ward will have tough time finding the voters.

During the last local body elections, more than 800 families lived here. There were two schools and some government offices, including post office and ration shop. The area was known for coir production.

Now there are close to 20 families living here. The schools, government offices and the ration shop have been shifted elsewhere.

The Ponmana ward sits on rich mineral deposits, which include titanium and thorium. Through a package announced by the State government, the public sector Kerala Minerals and Metals Limited (KMML) acquired a good portion of the ward after paying compensation.

The ward was then earmarked as a mining area of the KMML. Mining activities are now under way here. Those who received the compensation shifted elsewhere in Kollam and other districts. The houses of the evictees will be demolished as mining progresses.

Since the ward has close to 2,500 voters, political parties have decided to field candidates here. Politicians are confident that the voters will come and vote. They are drawing up plans to locate the voters and meet them personally with requests to come to Ponmana and vote.

Those evicted still prefer to remain on the voting list at Ponmana as they feel that after completing the mining activity, the land may not be of much use for the KMML because of the location.

Mining rules stipulate that after mineral separation, the waste sand be deposited back at the area from where it is mined. So after mining, the KMML can return it to them under another package, they hope and many of them are willing to wait for that.

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