Age-old Handicrafts Dying Under Chandrababu  

YSR Congress Party President YS Jagan Mohan Reddy - Sakshi Post

My Padayatra moved through Etikoppaka today—the place which breathed life into wood by creating handicrafts of world renown from lac. The artisans who met me narrated their problems to me. They expressed their anguish saying that this celebrated four hundred year-old craft was in danger of slipping into oblivion under the present TDP regime. Artisans, who had been recognised for their outstanding work and had been conferred awards, were now in the shadow of fading away and their craft was facing extinction, they feared. It was saddening to learn that many of these craftsmen had become daily wage labourers and workers in corporate companies. Officials created problems in the procurement of small quantities of wood which was required for making their toys, they complained.

When they brought this to the notice of the government, as a token gesture it gave them a depot, but they still do not have access to the raw material they need for making their famous toys, wood. “To add to our problems, the Chandrababu Naidu government has raised power charges thrice in the past four years," they said. This has only worsened the fate of the cottage industry, they complained. “If we have to pay Rs.4.80 per unit of power, our income goes towards paying electricity charges," they lamented. It is unfortunate that the TDP leadership does not have the same degree of interest in this cottage industry which has placed Andhra Pradesh on the world map through its toys made of lac, compared to its interest in matters where commissions are involved.

Sugarcane farmers, who met me today told me about the problems they faced. They cultivated sugar cane for the Etikoppaka sugar factory. Their troubles began as soon as Chandrababu Naidu came to power. The factory which was making profits slipped rapidly into losses. “The crop we grow does not get a good price and we don’t get payment for the produce delivered to the factory. On paper, we get Rs.2600 per tonne, but in reality we are paid Rs.2100. If we are not paid our dues, how do we grow our crop?" they asked. “The meagre, piecemeal amounts we are paid are barely enough to repay the loans we were forced to borrow and meanwhile, the interest rates keep mounting, they lamented.” Chandrababu Naidu, who observed that agriculture was a wasteful, unproductive exercise cannot understand the anguish of these farmers.

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Kondathalli of Pulaparthi Dalitawada

lost her parents, as well as her husband several years ago. Complaining of throat ache, she went to a hospital in Visakhapatnam, where she was diagnosed with cancer, two years ago. She was also told that she was not going to live for long, but determined to live for the sake of her son, she began to undergo treatment at CMC Vellore in Tamil Nadu. She was in tears because Arogyasri did not cover the treatment she was undergoing there.

Morampudi Eswara Rao of Etikoppaka lost his father when he was barely a year old. He has been diagnosed with life-threatening, blood-related disease, which incidentally, claimed the life of his brother as well. The government Hospital in Visakhapatnam does not have the required medicines and treatment elsewhere is expensive and beyond his modest means. Two years ago, out of sheer desperation, met the chief minister, Chandrababu Naidu who assured him that the collector would do the needful and promised to take it up with the collector. Eswara Rao has not heard from anyone since. I came across many such instances. People from the poorest sections of society as well as employees met me narrating the problems they were facing with respect to health and the lack of treatment. Arogyasri being denied to them was their common refrain. If they got themselves treated in Hyderabad, reimbursement was being denied to them, they complained.

I have a question for the chief minister—even when it was not a life threatening condition nor a medical emergency, for a simple toothache which can be treated under Rs.10-Rs.15,000 in our state itself, the Finance Minister of Andhra Pradesh went to Singapore for treatment and was reimbursed a whopping Rs. 2,88,823. In contrast, when a government employee, suffering from a life-threatening heart condition of cancer seeks reimbursement under Arogyasri for his treatment, why is it being denied to him? Not only did you leave Hyderabad overnight even though it was the common capital for 10 years, but did not extend Arogyasri to Hyderabad. When employees say that this is because of your involvement in the notes-for-votes case, what response do you have?

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