The villagers of Edakuria islet have decided to take back their decision of boycotting the Assembly elections in protest against the Government not building an overbridge across the Cauvery to link them to the rest of the world.

Soon after their announcement of boycotting the elections the Deputy Commissioner, Savithri, along with Kollegal Tahsildar, Superintendant of Police and Block Education Officer visited the islet and pursued the villagers to change their decision, with an assurance to take steps to build the bridge.

Strangely, the old-timers of Edakuria did not want to entertain outsiders in their village and feared that the bridge might bring the outsiders in and ruin their peace. Though the elders rejected the proposal to construct a bridge, the others were assured by the politicians during the time of elections ever since Independence that a link would be established.

Edakuria is a village islet is surrounded by the Cauvery with the river bank of Belakavadi village in Mandya district at one end and Sathegala in Kollegal taluk at another end. It has an electorate population of 500. There are no roads to reach this islet; small boats and coracles are the only means to ferry the villagers of this islet to the outside world. More than a hundred families comprising around 500 people and an equal number of cattle and sheep living here face a flood threat when the excess water is released from the Krishnaraja Sagar (KRS) and Kabini reservoirs. Power supply and telephone service to Edakuria go off during heavy rain. But the village elders refuse to move out. They said although floodwaters immersed Edakuria in 1962 and 1991, the damage was not huge. The residents of Edakuria were rescued in an operation launched by the State Government using helicopters when floods paralysed life during the reign of Nijalingappa as Chief Minister.

Edakuria is three km away from the bank of Sathegala village. There were reports of some persons being washed away in the river during heavy rain while crossing the Cauvery to get medical relief. An educated villager said that it was not difficult for the Government to construct a bridge across the Cauvery under the Prime Minister Gram Sadak Yojana.

Amid the difficulties, the people are happy with their own source of livelihood. It is said that long ago, due to severe drought, a group of people left their homes in search of a place near the river bed and they found Edakuria and established a colony.

The Government has opened a lower primary school. There are more than 60 students studying there. The village lacks roads, sanitation and hospital facilities. The villagers have got nearly 600 acres of land for cultivating paddy crop. With an abundant source of ground water, borewells yield water at just 20 ft.

The district administration headed by the Deputy Commissioner conducted a meeting of villagers at the Basaveshwara temple and promised to build the bridge. Ms. Savithri said it was impossible to construct the bridge immediately.

She said the proposal to build the bridge and an approach road to Edakuria is pending before the Government and it will be realised as soon as the new government is formed.

She called upon the villagers to participate in the election and exercise their right to vote.

Speaking on the occasion, the village leader, Basavaraju, said daily wage workers and students are facing hardship every day to go to other places. He said a proposal had been submitted to the district administration 30 years ago to construct an overbridge. He said though the bridge was sanctioned in 1980, successive governments failed to act. He said merely giving an assurance will not suffice and so it was inevitable for them to boycott the election.

Later, persuaded by the Deputy Commissioner, the villagers took an oath to participate in the election. A polling booth would be set up in Edakuria to facilitate them to exercise their franchise.

V. PANEESHA

Following an assurance from the authorities, Edakuria villagers decide not to boycott polls