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Pradeep Pattanayak

After years of living, what they call, a cursed life, people in several Panchayats across the State have resolved to abstain from voting in the  Panchayat Elections. By doing so, as per reports, they want to 'teach a lesson' to the politicians who have delivered them only false assurances over the years.

For instance, Tileibani Block in Deogarh district seems to be caught in a real-time warp. One doesn’t need to go around the villages to know why the villagers are so resentful. While entering the villages in the region, one can see how all sorts of developmental schemes have bypassed the villages over the years. \

Among others, lack of road communication and mobile network services have been on the wish list of the residents of the villages under Paraposhi, Jharagogua, Jharamunda, Gandam, and Dimirikuda Panchayats in Tileibani block. 

To vent their simmering anger at the leaders, this time, the villagers have decided against casting their votes. Not only that, none of them has so far filed nomination for the posts of Sarpanch and Samiti member. 

“We have taken up the problems with the administration and politicians but to no avail. This is why we have decided to stay away from the elections,” said Bijay Kumar Ekka, a Dholapada Panchayat resident. 

The District Panchayat Officer at Deogarh, Laba Kishan confirmed the villagers’ decision to not participate in the elections.

Ambapada village under Lamataput Block in Koraput district offers the same picture of utter neglect. The village, inhabited by around 100 families, is surrounded by Machhkund river. 

The Machhkund road is just one kilometer away from the village. But to reach the road, they have to travel 12 kilometres in rickety boats to reach the other side of the river. Besides lack of road communication facilities, drinking water problem also haunts them. While health service at  door step has been a distant dream, a dilapidated school completes the picture. Like the residents of Tileibani block, these irked villagers have also decided not to participate in voting.

Similarly, the residents of Adasipada village in Kandhamal district have warned that they will not cast their votes as their long-standing demands for a health centre and a mobile tower have not been taken care of. In this village, none has filed nominations for the coming elections. “We will not participate in elections so long as our demands for mobile tower and hospital are not met,” said Paramananda Sahani, secretary of Adasipada Jana Sachetan Mancha, Kandhamal. 

When contacted, Sub-Collector of Phulbani, Seshadeba Mishra said that nomination papers have been filed from the zone which has jurisdiction over Adasipada. At the same time, he clarified that he can’t say anything about what is happening at the Panchayat level. 

Let alone the remotest, even the ancestral village of Sports and Youth Services Minister Tusharkanti Behera  has allegedly been neglected over the years. Behera’s village is Balidia under Nagar Panchayat in Puri district. The villagers here have self-developed filter to have drinking water. The same situation is prevailing in seven Panchayats of Astarang block. 

“Around 3,000 people are living here. We all are facing the same problem of drinking water,” alleged Binilata Behera, a resident of Balidia village. 

When contacted, Minister Tusharkanti Behera, who is also Kakatpur MLA, said, “A mega drinking water project with an estimated cost of over Rs 250 crore is coming up in the locality. A DPR has already been prepared. The drinking water problem will soon be a thing of the past.”

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