Moola Station, Vizianagaram district: Ramateertha Sagar is a long-cherished dream of many decades for the people of this region. My father took up this important project which no leader focused his attention on. During his time, work on the project proceeded at a good pace. Nothing has moved with respect to this project after his untimely demise. Farmers from Poosapatirega Mandal met me today. In the past lands in their villages were irrigated by water from Kumili Pedda Cheruvu.
As it turned out, that lake became a part of the Ramateerthasagar project. After the Chandrababu Naidu government came to power, the farmers were struck by twin problems. On the one hand, they do not get water from the lake as they used to earlier. On the other, the project remains incomplete, a symbol of government neglect.
The rulers who promised to make alternative arrangements have forgotten all about it while the farmers here find themselves at the receiving end today. They expressed their deep anguish at the existing state of affairs. I was reminded of my father’s words that such leaders would remain a blot on the pages of history. The sight of the river Champavati on the way, pained me. It should have been a flowing river during the rainy season, but instead was reduced to a dry trickle. Lack of rain was in part, causing this problem, but the other major reason was rampant--sand mining along the banks of the river.
One can imagine the extent to which the sand mining mafia has taken things if one looks at the fact that the road was made in the village right in the middle of the dried up river! Unfortunately, the same situation prevails throughout the state. With indiscriminate digging of sand everywhere, a major ground water crisis has developed across the state and ponds and lakes are fast drying up. These sand mining mafias, have led to the process of desertification at an alarming pace. Nellimarla jute mills, which has a 100 year old history, was close to where I began my Padayatra from, today.
The entire region of North Andhra is renowned for jute mills. However, this jute mill which is supposed to provide employment to thousands of people is gradually being shut down due to lack of government patronage and increasing power tariffs. Naturally, the lives of those who are dependent for their livelihood on these mills, is getting severely impacted. Unable to support their families, many of these workers are being compelled by circumstances to migrate to other places in search of jobs and means of sustenance. While local industries are shutting down in this manner, our rulers are travelling at the taxpayers’ expense in private aircraft to get new industries to the state!
Miryala Lakshmi met me at a point near the mill. Her husband is an ice cream vendor and she, after completing her lab technician’s course, is still in search of employment. They have two daughters. “Will my daughters get the Maa Inti Mahalaxmi scheme announced by the Chief Minister?“, she asked me innocently. Perhaps, this gullible villager is unaware of the fact that Chandrababu had forgotten the scheme long ago.
I have a question for the chief minister— is it not true that schemes meant for the girl child such as Bangaru Talli have been stopped? What will you say to those whose names have already been registered? Has your government registered the name of at least one girl child under the scheme, “Maa Inti Mahalakshmi.”? Is this not betrayal and deception on your part?