Residents of Odisha's Malkangiri district to boycott assembly elections
The residents of cut-off areas in Malkangiri district in Odisha have decided to boycott assembly polls this time as a mark of protest against state government for neglecting growth and development.
The residents have complained that the development in the area has come to a standstill for the last one decade due to the fear instilled by Maoists and politicians visit them only during the time of elections.
"During the election time, everybody starting from a legislator to a minister will come and promise to do everything for us but later on they forget everything. We have been deprived of basic facilities. We don't have a proper Anganwadi (courtyard shelter) centre and a school where our children can sit and study. So this time we decided that we will not vote. We just want development and nothing else," said a resident, Mukunda Galari.
Anganwadis were started by the government as a programme under Integrated Child Development Services to combat hunger and malnutrition.
The cut-off areas that are now approachable only by motorboats are considered the breeding ground of Maoists.
After the Malkangiri collector Veenil Krishna was abducted and later released in 2011, the government officials are scared to visit the interior areas of Malkangiri.
The residents also said that if any government activity is noticed in the six village bodies of the cut-off areas, it is only the distribution of subsidized rice.
Another resident from the area, Sania Muduli said that they will not cast their votes this time as no development has been done in their area.
"This is a Maoist-affected area. A lot of fund is coming for the development of the district but no development has been done. Where are the ministers? Why don't they visit our place? Where is the money for our development being spent? So why should we cast our votes? Water scarcity is very acute in our area. If they will not solve our problems, we will not vote for them," he said.
Other development activities like construction of roads, buildings, culverts and plantation among others have also been badly hit due to lack of supervision by officials in the area.
Employments under government's flagship welfare scheme MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) have also taken a beating in the Maoist-dominated six village official bodies in Malkangiri district.
(Posted on 09-03-2014)