Earlier, the villagers had to travel 15 km to the nearest polling booth.

Coimbatore tribal villages to get polling booths after 50 yearsImage: A still from Dhumanur tribal village
news TN 2016 Wednesday, March 23, 2016 - 19:15

Three tribal villages in Coimbatore — Shembukarai, Dhumanur and Kattasalai — have a reason to celebrate this election season.

After 50 years, two polling booths will be set up by the election commission in these villages for the assembly elections.   

More than 200 families reside in these villages, with about 600 villagers having voter ID cards. Most of them are from the Irula tribe and mainly cultivate corn, maize, ragi or French millet and pulses like red gram and oil seeds like groundnut. The Irulas also raise cattle for milk, an important dietary staple for them.

For these 600 people to cast votes, meant starting from their houses early in the morning, travelling by jeep or tempo traveller for 15 km and coming back in the evening. This made the voting a difficult, sometimes impossible, act for the villagers.

“For voting, we used to go to Annaikatti polling booth which is 15 km from Dhumanur. One person goes to vote and the other person looks after the cattle in this place. Now, as there will be a polling booth, everyone can come and vote, even aged people can vote in this year’s elections,” Punmugasundaram, head-master of a school in Dhumanur, said.

Rangamma, another villager, added that even getting food for the day would be a problem for most villagers, since they would return to their villages only at the end of a long day of travel.

At times, going to another village to cast votes also led to fights, observed 56-year-old Mayilan. “We are very happy that a polling booth will be set-up in this place. We all want to fulfil our responsibility towards our state by voting. Now, everyone will vote from our villages,” he said.

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