Coimbatore

Vehicle to replace donkeys to transport poll materials to Kathirimalai hamlet

Road work was carried out to enable a pickup vehicle to pass through a reserve forest area to reach Kathirimalai hamlet in Erode district.  

As conducting polling at Kathirimalai hamlet in the Anthiyur Assembly constituency that can be reached after passing through the nine-km jungle terrain has always been a challenging task, election officials have decided to replace donkeys with a pickup vehicle to transport poll materials to enable the 133 odd electors to exercise their democratic right.

Located inside the reserve forest area of Chennampatti Forest Range of Erode Forest Division, the hamlet has 70 families comprising 276 members belonging to Soliga community who depend on farming and cattle rearing. They have to reach Kathiripatti or Thanda village at the foothills by foot to purchase essential commodities.

In the past elections, the electors walked for five hours to reach Elakiyampatti, a village at the foothills in Salem district, and travelled 85 km again to Anthiyur and exercised their franchise. During the 2016 Assembly elections, a booth was established at the Government Tribal Residential Middle School at the hilltop and donkeys carried the electronic voting machines and poll materials.

In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, five donkeys transported poll materials from the foothills to the hamlet and back.

Last month, the Forest Department allowed repair works in the Right of Way path and a pickup van was operated on trial basis. Presence of boulders and steep terrain posed risk and the vehicle could not be operated.

Later, a few repair works were carried out in the pathway and trial run of the vehicle was conducted. Rathna of Kathirimalai who owned the donkeys had sold them recently and purchased a pickup vehicle to commute people in the hilltop.

An officer who was part of the team that conducted polling in 2019 told The Hindu it was an arduous task to walk for 12 hours with the help of walking sticks in the reserve force. He expressed happiness over vehicle replacing the donkeys. Election officials said the pickup van would transport the materials for the polling to be held on April 6.

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Printable version | Apr 19, 2021 2:16:30 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Coimbatore/vehicle-to-replace-donkeys-to-transport-poll-materials-to-kathirimalai-hamlet/article34008906.ece

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