BB Patnam Cross, East Godavari District: Braving the rains due to low pressure in Bay of Bengal, my padayatra passed through Shrugavaram, Bangarayyapet and Rauthulapudi. I noticed that several families have been destroyed due to alcohol in these places. At Shrungavaram, many women expressed their anger over this issue. Free flow of liquor had turned even young people into alcoholics, they said. Later, I learned about Appalaraju and Appa Rao who died due to alcohol addiction. I could hear women pleading, “Anna after your come to power, please see that our village doesn’t have liquor supply.”

Yet another sad story from the same village is that of Emmali Seethamma, who works as a daily wage labourer. Her husband suffers from a liver disease because of his addiction to liquor. “What about my children’s future?” she breaks down. Punnumanthula Satyanarayana is also a daily wage labourer from Bangarayyapet. He lost his leg in an accident caused by driving under the influence. “Let alone medicine, I am finding it difficult to afford my daily bread,” he mentioned.

As I was passing through the fields in Shrungavaram, the women farm labourers came to meet me. They lamented that all the money they earn through the work is blown up by their husbands on alcohol. Lovatalli’s husband died at 25 due to his alcohol addiction. The family has come to the streets now. Liquor is available at a phone call in these villages. This is our Chandrababu’s ruling of the state.

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According to doctors at the Kakinada government hospital, the number of patients with liver problems has increased considerably over the last four and half years. And most of them are in the age group of 30-35. Today’s news pained me a lot. A man, due to the influence of alcohol, pushed his three children into river and killed them. The man alone cannot be blamed for the crime, the government is equally responsible for the deaths because it has allowed easy access to liquor across the state. It is unfortunate that the government was dependent on the money earned through liquor sales.

After all these miseries, I was very happy to hear the words of Marampudi Raja. In 2008, his pregnant wife developed complications at mid night. They live in a remote place which has no access to transport. “During the time, I just called 108…the ambulance arrived and my wife was immediately shifted to a hospital where she gave birth to the child. We are ever thankful to your father, Dr YS Rajasekhara Reddy for enabling the services.” These words made me happy.

Today being National handloom day, handloom workers from Rauthulapudi felicitated me. They told me about the help they received from the government during Dr YSR rule. The handloom industry is currently in a dire state. They expressed hope that the YSRCP will revive the industry after coming to power.

I have a question for the chief minister – One of your first signatures was to order a ban on belt shops. Is it not surprising that, after four and half years, you are talking about belt shops? Is there any village in the state without a belt shop? Is it not true that under your rule the total sales of liquor has gone up from Rs 11,000 crores to Rs 17,000 crores? Also, is it not correct that the number of APBCL godowns have increased from 13 to 24? What was the intention behind your office order to increase commission for liquor dealers? Have you even taken up any programme to educate people on the evils of alcohol? As promised in your manifesto, have you started at least one de-addiction centre in the state?