Residents of Daruthenga panchayat on the city outskirts did not cast their votes in the first phase of the three-tier rural polls today.
The villagers are at loggerheads with authorities over relocation of the Bhuasuni dumping yard being used by the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation in their village.
Official sources said nine polling booths had been set up for the Daruthenga panchayat which consists of eight villages and around 6,800 voters.
“The villagers had already decided to boycott the polls, and hence, there was not a single nomination for sarpanch and ward members. No voter turned up at the polling booths today. We will continue to stage demonstration till the dumping yard is relocated from the existing site,” said former sarpanch Prashant Kumar Routray. The panchayat has as many as 13 wards.
There were no nominations from the gram panchayat for sarpanch and ward member despite the State Election Commission issuing notifications twice. However, the polling booths were set up for the people to cast their votes for the zilla parishad.
Sources said the district administration would nominate the sarpanch and ward members for the Daruthenga panchayat.
“We unanimously decided to boycott the panchayat polls as the government has not taken any initiative to shift the dumping yard, which remains a major concern for us. Our village has remained a place of dumping of garbage generated by the state capital. The decision to boycott the polls was a justified one,” said a Daruthenga resident.
The villagers have been on the protest path since January last year demanding relocation of the dumping yard to Tulasideipur, which is located around 2km away from Bhuasuni. The residents are also protesting against the civic body’s decision to set up a waste-to-energy plant at the site.
Villagers alleged that several of the residents had been suffering from health problems because of the unhealthy and unhygienic environment created by the dumping of waste. The villagers also alleged that dumping of garbage has led to water contamination in the area.
Last July, the village had turned into a battlefield with the villagers fighting the police. Around 20 persons had suffered injuries on both sides. The police had retaliated to the stone pelting by the mob protesting against dumping of garbage at the yard and fired tear gas shells and rubber bullets. The police had also resorted to lathi charge to disperse the mob.
Courtesy: The Telegraph | Image Source: Orissa Post