Thursday, May 23, 2024
India News

Lok Sabha polls | Voters from tribal settlements of Valparai trudge long distances through forest to get to polling station

R. Kittan and his wife from Keel Poonachi tribal settlement seen at the polling station at Attakatti near Valparai, after walking 7 km through forests to come and cast their votes

R. Kittan and his wife from Keel Poonachi tribal settlement seen at the polling station at Attakatti near Valparai, after walking 7 km through forests to come and cast their votes
| Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

The Valparai Assembly segment of the Pollachi Parliamentary constituency is know for its picturesque vistas in the Anamali hills in the Western Ghats. However, for voters from many interior places of Valparai, exercising their franchise involves crossing several hurdles.

R. Kittan, a 55-year-old Pulayar man from the Keel Poonachi tribal settlement in the Anamalai Tiger Reserve (ATR), and his wife had to walk seven km from their settlement to the government high school in Attakatti to cast their votes. “We had to walk to the Pollachi – Valparai road due to a lack of tar-topped roads and commuting services here,” he said.

There are 59 families living in the settlement, which is one of the nearly 40 tribal settlements in the ATR.

P. Mallika, who also walked through the forest for 7 km to get to the polling station to cast her vote, on Friday, April 19, 2024

P. Mallika, who also walked through the forest for 7 km to get to the polling station to cast her vote, on Friday, April 19, 2024
| Photo Credit:
Special Arrangement

P. Malliga, a 65-year-old woman from the same area said she and many others have been demanding basic amenities, including a tar road and electricity for many years, but have been disappointed every time. When representatives political parties visited her settlement too seek votes recently, their community staged an agitatation as their needs are hardly ever met, she said.

Tribal activist S. Thanraj of Ekta Parishad, Tamil Nadu, said these tribal families have been demanding roads for several decades. In the event of medical emergencies, like the onset of labour in pregnant women, they carry the patient on bamboo stretchers and walk through steep and difficult forested areas to seek medical help.

“As of now, only one settlement, namely Nedungundram has a direct tar road and power connection,” he said.

Recently, tribal man carried a pregnant woman for several km thought the forest after her labour started.

V. S. Paramasivam of the Tamil Nadu Tribal Association said the situation of tribals remain unchanged after every election.

“Revenue and forest officials could have made more arrangements for the transportation of tribals to polling booths in order to increase their polling percentage”, he said.

Tribals in the ATR making a livelihood from farming, jobs in estates and collecting minor forest produces like honey and amla.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *