Villagers in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli to boycott Lok Sabha polls due to lack of roads


PTI, Apr 15, 2024, 1:29 PM IST

Chamoli: The residents of several villages in Uttarakhand’s Chamoli district have decided to boycott the upcoming Lok Sabha polls to register their protest against the lack of road infrastructure in the region that leads to a delay in getting medical facilities.

Pradeep Farshwan from Ganai village said the call to boycott the parliamentary polls was given in December last year.

“In the last two years, two women delivered babies on their way to the hospital. We decided to boycott the Lok Sabha polls in December. We will not vote until a road connects our village. We wrote a letter to the chief minister about the problem on December 11. In February, village representatives, along with women, wrote a letter to the district magistrate about it,” Pradeep said.

He added that some officials came to the area on March 30 and said they will submit a report in 10 days, but it is yet to be submitted.

“There was a report in 2017 that a five-kilometre road could be built in the area. The villagers have said they will not participate in elections until the work starts,” Pradeep said, adding that when people fall ill, they have to be carried on shoulders to the Patalganga market for an ambulance.

Ganai has more than 550 voters.

Another villager, Deepak Farshwan, said poll officials came to the village with a voting machine so that aged people can exercise their franchise. An 85-year-old woman refused to cast her vote, saying she has never seen a pucca road here in her life but she does not want the future generations to experience her plight, Deepak said, adding that the villagers are also forced to pay an additional amount to get food and other essential items to the village.

Jitender Singh Kanyal from Bhangul Garah village in the Tapovan area said they lost a bridge in the 2021 flash floods.

“There was a bridge that we lost in the 2021 disaster. Now, we have to walk around three kilometres to reach the Tapovan market. Permission was given in 2011 and 2018 to build a road in the area, but nothing has happened since then. The tehsildar came to meet us twice last week, but the meeting was not fruitful and our call for poll boycott still stands,” Kanyal said.

The residents of Kankhal Malla village in the Kapiri area had also given a poll-boycott call but it was withdrawn subsequently following an assurance from the local MLA.

Rajendra Khatyari, a resident of Kankhal Malla, said, “There is no road connectivity till our village. We have to walk four to five kilometres for public transport. We gave the poll-boycott call in March. However, after an assurance from our MLA, Anil Nautiyal, we have decided to vote.”

Another villager, Khildev Rawat, said the situation is much worse for aged people as they have to be carried on shoulders to a hospital in case of a medical emergency.

“The MLA has assured us that after the election, the work to construct a road will start. We are hopeful. My daughter is getting married on the polling day. We will first caste our votes and then welcome the guests,” Rawat said.

Polling for the five Lok Sabha seats in Uttarakhand is scheduled to be held on April 19 and the counting of votes will be taken up on June 4.

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