'We are a neglected lot': Narikuravars' rising distrust in democratic process

Clarifying to the community the constraints in place with the Model Code of Conduct being implemented, the collector assured to address their grievances post-election.
People from Narikuravar community in Lawspet expressing their long-standing grievances to Election Officer A Kulothungan on Friday
People from Narikuravar community in Lawspet expressing their long-standing grievances to Election Officer A Kulothungan on FridayPhoto | EXPRESS

PUDUCHERRY: What began as a voter motivation drive, during Collector-cum-District Election Officer A Kulothungan's visit to the Narikuravar colony in Lawspet on Friday, turned into a platform for the community to voice out their long-standing grievances, lack of access to basic facilities, and their dwindling faith in the democratic process.

Kulothungan told TNIE that of the 500 eligible voters in the area, which has so far recorded a low voter turnout, only 100 to 150 people have voted in the previous elections.

“We are a neglected lot,” lamented one Kasthuri (29). None of the representatives remember us, she said, after getting elected. "Even when we approach them, they do not bother."

Lack of proper housing conditions was among the pressing issues highlighted by the community, as most of the buildings were 15-16 years old and in a dilapidated state. "Walls have developed cracks and collapse often; water drips from roofs during rains. Those who grew up and now have families of their own are forced to live in makeshift shelters," she said.

The withdrawal of free electricity supply has exacerbated their woes. "The electricity department is asking us to pay for the energy meters," she said, adding that the consumption charges are unaffordable.

Not having access to clean drinking water has affected their health and hygiene, with claims of tap water being "infested with worms." Kasthuri said that the problem has stayed the same ever since a separate water line was laid, unlinking from the nearby airport line. "We are falling sick and have to often seek medical help," she added. Besides, without transport access, people have been walking a few kilometres to take a bus.

There is only one primary school in their area, which was constructed by an NGO and run by the Education Department, and it functions from 10 am to 12.30 pm, closing right after providing mid-day meals, said Kasthuri, adding that the lack of balwadis and childcare facilities adds to their everyday challenges.

Clarifying to the community the constraints in place with the Model Code of Conduct being implemented, the collector assured to address their grievances post-election. The Narikuravar community's plea serves as a poignant reminder of the pressing need for inclusive development and equitable representation.

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