KOCHI: The excitement and the hustle and bustle of elections, as seen elsewhere, was missing in Ramanthuruth. Situated just four kilometres from mainland Kochi but cut off from the rest of the city, the island is home to one of the smallest electoral stations in the state. It has only 18 voters.Plagued by myriad issues and hopeful of finding solutions to some of those, most residents of the island arrived to cast their votes. By around 3pm, 15 voters had exercised their franchise. Making all facilities available for them to vote, the district administration arranged a polling booth on the island.
For those expecting an election booth in an educational institution or a community hall, Ramanthuruth would be a surprise. After travelling through a narrow, dusty and unpaved road for quite a distance, and crossing a small railway gate, one would arrive at a shed with tin-sheeted roofing, which serves as the election booth. Four elections officials were seen inside, waiting patiently.
The officials arrived on Monday and had spent the night on the benches placed inside the polling booth.
“We were required to report a day before the election, and we reached by noon. After ascertaining that all arrangements were in order, we spent the night at the booth itself. Two ladies are part of the staff on duty here, and for them, arrangements were made at a women’s hostel in Vypeen,” said Baby Paul, the presiding officer at the Ramanthuruth booth, which falls under ward number one of the Kochi corporation.
“There are 23 voters in the list with the officials, but that’s because of technical errors. In reality, there are only 18 voters, three of whom are unable to cast their votes. The rest have turned up for voting,” said Thampy C A, a polling official.
Mercy, 66, is the oldest resident voter of Ramanthuruth. Angelos, 19, perhaps the youngest voter, is disappointed that he could not vote this time as his name did not appear on the voters’ list. “I had applied but my name was not included in the list. All my friends have already cast their first vote. So I am a bit disappointed,” said Angelos. For panchayat elections, however, residents of the island have to travel to Vypeen or Fort Kochi to vote.
“We don’t have a booth here for local body elections,” said Sumesh K K, a local resident.Over the years, around 26 families have left the island because of a lack of potable water and issues with the availability of electricity. Though they have received some relief from most issues, people in the region get completely isolated and are unable to go to work during high tide.
“The water rises by two or three feet and we are unable to commute. Without a proper road, it is difficult for even an autorickshaw to come here. They are reluctant too. We need all this to change. Last year, two more families left the island. Now we have just five households here,” said 56-year-old Subrahmanyan.