No Development, No Vote: Kodagu Tribal Community Decides To Collectively Boycott Polls
On April 11, the first phase of voting will officially mark the beginning of the 2019 general elections, one that is a desperate race for votes for parties big and small.
But at the same time, there are still places in the country where people do not find basic necessities to support themselves. Kodagu tribal community of Maadu hadi, under B Shettigiri Gram panchayat, Virajpet district of Karnataka, are deprived of the basic necessities of life, such as drinking water and proper sanitation. According to them, their concerns have not been taen seriously by leaders of political parties. Hence, members of the tribe have decided to boycott the upcoming general elections, 2019.
Problems faced by tribal community
The community living in this hamlet has been relying on a small stream that flows between the dense forest patch to collect rainwater for past 20 year. Each day, they have to travel a long distance to collect this water. Most of the residents in these areas are labourers of coffee plantation and live in row houses in various plantations. According to these tribal people, they have demanded, pleaded and even protested for water supply and other basic amenities for last 20 years, but in vain.
“We have been living here for over 20 years, yet, we do not own a title deed,” complained Mani, a resident of Maadu Hadi.
A tribe of over 40 families live in 20 or more houses in the area, which are mostly half damaged. The toilets set up by the gram panchayat are of no use due to no water supply in it. People are, hence, forced to defecate in open.
“Just because we live in tribal hamlets, should we be deprived of basic facilities? We have been struggling for drinking water for the past 20 years, yet no one is paying Heed to us. It is better to live somewhere else,” said Parvathi, another resident.
Except for concrete roads, there are no government-run facilities in this village. There are no motorable roads until one walks about 10 km away from the place. Somehow, power supply has been provided by the government but electricity is available in only seven houses. The nearest government school is eight km away and Aanganwadi is four km away from the area, resulting in most of the children working in coffee plantations instead.
Since local authorities have failed to implement any proper development project in Maadu Haadi, Y K Ganesh, tribal co-ordination committee state convener has threatened the administrations that they would boycott the upcoming Lok Sabha elections. Over 50,000 tribal people in the district are living without the basic facilities.
What government officials say
Tribal Welfare Department officer Chandrashekhar said, “Only a handful of people are living in Maadu Haadi. The local gram panchayat should have implemented local development works. However, the Tribal Welfare Department has laid down concrete roads in the hamlet and a drinking water project will be implemented soon at a cost of Rs 6 lakhs. ”
Recently, more than 2,000 villagers in Bihar’s Jamui threatened to boycott Lok Sabha elections due to poor road, days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi campaigned there. People vote a certain government to power with the hope that its leaders will create a better society for them to live in. It is the duty of the leaders to ensure that citizens are provided with their basic requirements so that they can live an easier, more comfortable life. When people are deprived of their basic rights, it is only natural that they would hesitate to vote a government to power.