These Karnataka villagers not an island in democratic process

On Tuesday, the villagers crossed the river in boats to arrive at polling booths.
Villagers cross River Gangavalli by boat to get to a polling station
Villagers cross River Gangavalli by boat to get to a polling stationPhoto | Express

DANDEBAGH (UTTARA KANNADA): They boated for 40 minutes and trekked for another 20 before reaching their polling booths at this village in Uttara Kannada district.

Not the ones to be discouraged by the difficulties they face, 70 villagers from Hitchkad Kurve -- an island village nestled in the Gangavalli river, came in their boats to cast their votes as this is the only mode of transport for them.

Hitchkad Kurve, an Instagrammable island surrounded by coconut groves and forests, is an isolated patch with 30 fishermen families, with almost all households owning a boat to fish in the river that adjoins an estuary.

On Tuesday, the villagers crossed the river in boats to arrive at polling booths. “It takes us nearly 40 minutes to reach this bank at Dandebagh village. We need another 15-20 minutes to arrive at the polling booth,” said Beera Thimmanna Harikanthra, who had come to vote with his family members.

The villagers have been demanding a bridge from Hitchkad Kurve to Dandebagh. “It has been a long-pending demand by the people of our village. They constructed a bridge from another faraway place Mutnakurve. We were unhappy with that. But we do not want to make it an issue in this election. We have all been coming to vote regularly,” said Beera.

“We have been travelling like this from the days of my great grandfather. We have to cross the river every time we need any essential commodity. We have to return by 5 pm or else we have to stay at Dandebagh with our friends or relatives,” said Dikshit Prakash Harikanthra.

The village got electricity, gas connection and other amenities five years ago, just before Covid. The worst time for them is when it rains. “When it pours, the water level rises and we all move out of our village. The Hitchkada Government School is our abode till the floods subside,” said Sandesh Dhanvanth Harikanthra, another youth here.

The villagers together have around 100 acres of land, the majority of which is owned by Nadava community. Harikanthras are mainly fishermen and own small patches. They fish or work in farms as labourers.

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