Cut off from the world, they are cut up with leaders

Cut off from the world, they are cut up with leaders

Deprived of amenities, residents of naxal-hit villages plan to boycott the ballot

Cut off from the world, they are cut up with leaders

These villagers are resorting to that last weapon, not the ballot but boycotting it, to show their protest.

Theirs is an everyday story of road to hell. The only bus that plies to their village Koranakunte, which is 12 km from Nalur that is on the Teerthahalli-Agumbe main road, terminates the journey midway many times as the stretch is extremely unmotorable. The commuters have either to walk or take other vehicles for the rest of the route.

It’s election time now and party leaders do not forget remembering the villagers. But thereafter, the residents are left to fend for themselves with their countless agonies.
“The government talks about those who are wielding the gun (read naxals). But, it fails to spare a thought for those of us who are on the verge of handling the weapon,” Gadaragadde Devaraj told Deccan Herald.

“The woes of villagers of naxal-affected areas have remained unchanged for several years. Our only demand is proper roads to the 10 villages like Huruli and Shuntihaklu that come under the Nalur Gram Panchayat (GP), considered a naxal-hit region. The demands of the more than 3,000 people in these villages have remained unfulfilled,” he said.

Devaraj is sore over the fact that the Zilla Panchayat (ZP) failed to even maintain the road that the Karnataka Power Corporation Limited had constructed, connecting Nalur and Koranakunte.

The villages are virtually cut off from the rest of the world during the rainy season. The deputy commissioner, who is also the chairman of the Naxal-affected Areas Development Committee, says there is no dearth of funds for development works. Then, what prevents officials from repairing the road, he asks.

“The elected representatives forgot their duties. But, we never failed in our responsibility to cast our votes. But, we will soon decide on boycotting the booths,” say residents of naxal-affected areas in Teerthahalli taluk.

Koranakunte resident Girish says his village lacks streetlights too.

“We want basic facilities and nothing else. The presence of huge stones on the Nalur-Koranakunte stretch are a threat to vehicles. People have sustained injuries by falling off moving two-wheelers,” Girish said.

These villages cannot be brought under the Swarnajayanti Gram Swarozgar Yojana due to a technical reason: they are below the population limit to qualify. The ZP, on its part, has no funds.

“Besides repairs, the road needs to be widened so that more number of buses can ply. High school students of these villages have to walk 10 km to Megaravalli,” says Narayana Shetty, a resident of Shuntihaklu.  
Ramesh, resident of Begadaali village, said, “Teerthahalli is just 36 km from our village. But Nalur GP comes under Hosanagar taluk. Hosanagar is 90 km from many of these villages. So, we are forced to travel this torturous distance to get pahani, voter ID card and for other works.”

Residents of Binkla, attached to Mulubagilu GP, also have decided to boycott the elections.

Dinesh, a resident, said “Sitting MLA Kimmane Ratnakar had promised that the road will be constructed without fail during the last elections. He failed to keep his word. So, we have asked candidates not to step into the village seeking votes.”        

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