A polling booth amidst mangroves and slithering reptiles on the city’s outskirts 

 Pushed to the fringes of the city, where basic amenities remain a daydream, elections are opportunities for these hapless families to remind the politicos about their plight. 

Published: 22nd April 2019 04:48 AM  |   Last Updated: 22nd April 2019 04:48 AM   |  A+A-

The temporary booth at Ramanthuruthu, which has only 19 voters, all set for the polling to the Lok Sabha elections which will be held on Tuesday | A Sanesh

Express News Service

KOCHI:  Pushed to the fringes of the city, where basic amenities remain a daydream, elections are opportunities for these hapless families to remind the politicos about their plight. A temporary polling booth - a small tent erected on four poles with a tin sheet roofing - has been set up at Ramanthuruthu, a marshy islet located just 4 km away from High Court Junction. With just 19 voters, Ramanthuruthu is the polling booth with the least number of voters in the constituency.

Three polling officers and two civil police officers will have to spend a night on the island, guarding the voting machine on Monday. However, considering the lack of amenities and the threat from reptiles, the authorities are considering to provide accommodation for the officers at Vallarpadom.Life is hell for the five families with 27 members, who are destined to live the life of outcasts in the marshy land surrounded by mangroves with reptiles slithering all around. 

The voters here include 10 men and nine women. Of the 19, one person working in West Asia arrived on leave the other day to exercise his franchise. This has improved the possibility of achieving 100 per cent polling. However, even if all the voters cast their votes in the morning itself, the polling officers will have to wait till 5 pm to wind up the polling.Fort Kochi Special Village officer K B Suji, who is in charge of the booth, said all arrangements have been put in place for polling. 

There is no proper road to reach Ramanthuruthu and the residents have to trudge their way around the compound wall of the International Container Transshipment Terminal to reach their home. It is an arduous task for a stranger to reach the islet as the road leading to the place is narrow with thorny bushes blocking the way. The absence of streetlights and the presence of reptiles pose challenges. 

The residents complain though the election campaign is over, no candidate has visited them. Francis Linesh, a resident, said life on the islet is miserable. “No one cares to hear our woes. We are destined to live the life of outlaws for decades. Though the authorities had promised to rehabilitate us all assurances turned out to be hollow. We got power connection seven years ago. Even for drinking water we have to wait for the mercy of Corporation officers,” he said.

The residents have to contact their councillor each time to get drinking water delivered. 
The residents had to go to Fort Kochi to cast their vote during the local bodies election in 2015. 
However, this time the commission decided to provide a temporary booth.


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