Voting has always been a challenging task in Kathirimalai in the Anthiyur Assembly constituency that can be reached after passing through a nine-kilometer forest area, with election officials choosing 133 materials to replace donkeys with pickup vehicles to enable them. Strange voters to exercise their democratic right.
The hamlet, located inside the reserved forest area of the Chenampatti forest range of the Erode Forest Division, has 276 members belonging to the Soliga community, dependent on farming and animal husbandry. They have to walk to reach Kathiripatti or Thanda village in the foothills to purchase essential commodities.
In the last elections, electors reached Elakiyapatti, a village in the foothills of Salem district for five hours, and again traveled 85 km to Anthiyur and exercised their franchise. During the 2016 assembly elections, a booth was set up on the hilltop at Government Tribal Residential Middle School and donkeys delivered electronic voting machines and voting materials.
In the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, five donkeys carried polling material from the foothills to Hamlet and back.
Last month, the forest department allowed repair works on the right of way and a pickup van was operated on a trial basis. The presence of the boulder and steep terrain posed a risk and the vehicle could not be operated.
Later, some repair work was done on the route and a trial run of the vehicle was carried out. Rathna of Kathirimalai, owned by the donkeys, had recently sold them and bought a pickup vehicle to bring people to the hilly areas.
An official who was part of the voting team in 2019 said Hindu It was difficult to walk for 12 hours with the help of sticks in the reserve force. He expressed happiness over driving vehicles in place of donkeys. Election officials said the pickup van will transport materials for the April 6 voting.