Voting will be conducted from 6.30 a.m. to 1.30 p.m. on Wednesday, says ITDA project officer
Hundreds of Kondareddy and Koya tribes are waiting with bated breath to vote for the first time in their own hamlets of Perantallapalli, Kakisanuru and Tekupalli in Koida gram panchayat of West Godavari Agency area, on February 17.
For the last 50 years, the tribes used to trek hillocks and cross the Godavari and reach Koida village to exercise their franchise.
Thanks to the State Election Commission (SEC) and the District Election Officer (DEO), Revu Mutyalaraju, who is the District Collector, who decided to conduct polling in the third phase of local body polls in the inaccessible hamlets of Perantallapalli, Kakisanuru and Tekupalli, which were also declared as extremist-affected areas.
“For many decades, we used to cast our votes during Assembly, MPTC and ZPTC and gram panchayat elections in Koida panchayat, under the jurisdiction of Khammam district. Now, for the first time, we will cast our votes in our villages during the ongoing gram panchayat elections,” the tribals said.
K.R. Puram Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) Project Officer R.V. Suryanarayana said that about 600 voters are there in the inaccessible as well as extremist-affected polling stations. Tribals of the border villagers have to spend a day to exercise their franchise at Koida. Instead of troubling the villagers, arrangements have been made to shift about 50 election staff and polling material to the villages, said Polavaram DSP K. Latha Kumari.
Mr. Suryanarayana, along with Ms. Latha Kumari, Velerupadu MRO Challanna Dora, MPDO Srihari, Tribal Welfare APO Srinivas Rao and other officers visited the polling booths and enquired about the facilities in Peraltallapalli village on Monday.
“After discussing the issue with the ITDA, the SEC and the District Collector, decided to conduct elections in Perantallapalli, Kakisanuru and Tekupalli villages by making necessary arrangements to the polling staff in the habitations,” the ITDA PO told The Hindu on Monday.
West Godavari Superintendent of Police (SP) K. Narayan Naik said security has been beefed up along the A.P.-Telangana borders in coordination with the police of the neighbouring State. Area domination, CRPF companies and APSP platoons have been deployed, the SP said.
“Police took the inaccessible habitations into their control and villagers can exercise their franchise without any fear. All arrangements have been made for counting at Koida village,” Mr. Narayan Naik said.
“Hitherto, hundreds of Kondareddy and Koya tribes have to travel about 35 km on the Godavari, along with children to exercise their ‘right to vote’ in Koida. They used to return at midnight by crossing dangerous spots in the river. Now, they will vote in their own hamlet,” said a tribal woman Madakam Sonu.