Kerala Assembly polls | Section of Chellanam residents boycott polls


Joyce Babu, a housewife from Kannamali along the coastal belt of the Kochi Assembly constituency, was among those who chose to boycott the election as a mark of protest under the aegis of Kochi Chellanam Janakeeya Vedhi.

And, the reason for her boycott could be seen right next to her house along a fully collapsed seawall that hardly serves the purpose of keeping marauding sea waves from surging into households in the neighbourhood during every high tide.

โ€œAll political parties have shared power but have failed to offer us any respite from our nightmare. All they have given us over the years have been empty promises. Why should we even bother to vote for people who donโ€™t care for us?โ€ asked 55-year-old Ms. Babu who has been living there for 25 years now.

Metilda Cleetus, another housewife from Saudi, also boycotted the poll on same grounds. She is unsparing of political partiesโ€™ alleged apathy towards the plight of coastal people who frequently have to move to relief camps with little privacy with their grown-up girls and toddlers every time the sea breaches the coast. โ€œFor someone who had never wasted a single vote, it was with a heavy heart that I decided to forgo my voting right for the first time,โ€ said Ms. Cleetus.

Kochi Chellanam Janakeeya Vedhi has been on a relay hunger strike for 520 days now, demanding a solution to sea erosion by erecting seawall and groynes. The protest has since been shifted from a roadside pandal to individual households in compliance with the COVID-19 protocol.

โ€œInitially, nearly 2,300 people had planned to boycott the election, but quite a few succumbed to pressures from political parties and even the Church. Yet, over 1,000 might have boycotted it,โ€ said Jayan Kunnel, working president of the organisation.

He added that the organisation had for long been asking for a simple solution of depositing sediments and soil dredged by the Cochin Port Trust along the Chellanam coast. โ€œThat will help reduce the depth along the coast, thereby softening the intensity of sea erosion. That is a simple relief possible with an executive order, and following it up with erecting groynes to retain sediments from getting washed away will offer a permanent solution,โ€ said Mr. Kunnel.

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