Qatar World Cup 2022LIVE updates: Tunisia vs France; Australia vs Denmark

Deserted, but not deterred from voting

Tribals exercise their franchise despite candidates constantly giving their hamlet a miss

April 02, 2019 12:34 am | Updated 07:41 am IST - ERODE

Erode, 01/04/2019

A view of the Malliamman Durgham tribal settlement amidst dense forests at Kadambur hills in Erode district in Tamil Nadu on Monday.

 PHOTO: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT / The Hindu


Erode, 01/04/2019
 
 A view of the Malliamman Durgham tribal settlement amidst dense forests at Kadambur hills in Erode district in Tamil Nadu on Monday.
 
 PHOTO: SPECIAL ARRANGEMENT / The Hindu
 

While candidates and leaders of political parties are criss-crossing the State to garner votes for the Lok Sabha election, a tribal settlement nestled in a dense forest on Kadambur hills in the district has not once witnessed such campaign visits all these years. And yet, the locals continue to exercise their democratic right to vote whenever polls are held.

With 137 houses and 421 electors (224 men, 197 women), Malliamman Durgham falls under the Bhavani Sagar Assembly segment and The Nilgiris parliamentary constituency. Located about 9 km away from a motorable road, the hamlet could be reached only by jeep, after passing through the dense forest.

“We have been living here for many generations, cultivating millets, guava and jackfruit. No candidate from any political party has visited our hamlet seeking votes in any election,” said 70-year-old Kaliappan. “Though no development work has been carried out, we continue to vote,” he added.

Since the habitation is situated inside the Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve (STR), roads could not be laid, and even now, pregnant women and patients are carried on cradles or cots on a two-hour journey to reach the hospital. “Only five months ago, automatic solar lighting systems were installed, which help power three bulbs in each house. But we cannot even charge our mobile phones. All electronic gadgets remain idle in our houses,” said M.K. Subramani, 38, the first graduate from the hamlet. He said only a few party functionaries would visit the hamlets, seeking votes.

As many as 24 children are studying at the Panchayat Union Middle School in the hamlet, which serves as a polling station. After Class VIII, few pursue further studies at other schools, while most become labourers, said C. Palanisamy, 37, who runs a studio at Kadambur.

No road

“Since there are no roads, I visit my house only once or twice a week,” he added.

Rajeswari, 27, who had completed Plus-Two, said most youngsters take up sugarcane cutting while entire families turn bonded labourers in agricultural fields in the plains. “We are cut off from the outside world and the person who visits Kadambur has to gather news and inform us of happenings,” she added.

Though people are aware that tar-topped roads cannot be laid in their hamlet, they want at least a motorable road to be able to reach Kadambur. “It is difficult to digest that many generations of our community have passed without any development. Only a motorable road will revive our lives,” said Mr. Kaliappan.

Top News Today

Comments

Comments have to be in English, and in full sentences. They cannot be abusive or personal. Please abide by our community guidelines for posting your comments.

We have migrated to a new commenting platform. If you are already a registered user of The Hindu and logged in, you may continue to engage with our articles. If you do not have an account please register and login to post comments. Users can access their older comments by logging into their accounts on Vuukle.