Poll times that bring forest areas into focus

There are about 25 booths in Idukki district that are considered difficult to be accessed

Forest settlements in Idukki come into focus specially during polling time when accessing the areas become a task for the officials.

In Edamalakkudy, the remotest tribal grama panchayat in the State, the officials reach a day in advance and return only after the polling day. The last local body elections saw use of Ham Radio to pass details of polls and voting percentage.

This time, the lack of accessibility was a greater question with the road to Edamalakkudy via Pettimudy being washed away in the recent landslips. But as per an official of the Edamalakkudy grama panchayat, the road is functional now and hence accessibility is a not a problem. But communication is, and special arrangements have to be made for that.

There are also other polling booths in Idukki Wildlife Sanctuary and forest settlements in Munnar and Marayur that are cut away from the mainstream. An official at Marayur Sandalwood Division says almost all the settlements are electrified and connected with roads and it may not be a problem for officials and voters to reach the polling stations.

The mood of the upcoming local body elections in these remote areas is yet to pick up. But once the papers are filed, the scene could be fully poll-charged, officials say.

“For the candidates at Edamalakkudy, personal canvassing is difficult, as the 22 forest settlements are scattered in a wide area inside the Munnar forest division. There are remote hamlets with less than 15 residents and reaching there is a problem,” says Georgekutty, a former staff at Edamalakkudy grama panchayat.

This is the third local body elections being witnessed in Edamalakkudy after its formation in 2010. However, the camp office of the panchayat still functioned at Devikulam, near Munnar.

The special branch of Police Department has recommended to the district administration that there are four booths in the grama panchayats of Edamalakkudy and Adimaly where special arrangements are needed for transportation. In the district in total, about 25 booths are considered difficult to be accessed. The special branch has also collected the details of the booths where off-road vehicles are needed for transportation.

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