Ungaradametta, Srikakulam district: today my Padayatra proceeded through Palakonda and Rajam constituencies. This morning Adilakshmi, who hails from a poor Yadava family, met me near the camp office. Her father died in unfortunate circumstances last year when he was gored to death by a bull. Suddenly, life became extremely challenging for this family which consists of five daughters. Chandranna Beema, the much-touted insurance scheme, was not being given even in its watered down state, she pointed out. What is the use of having schemes which don’t serve the poor, she lamented. Are they meant only for publicity, she questioned.
I crossed the Nagavali river, the lifeline of Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts and stepped into Rajam constituency. Rajam is a place synonymous with the courage of Tandra Paparayudu.
An elderly woman, Satyavati, walked alongside me today near Sankili. This old woman, who did not study beyond fifth standard, rattled off the failures and shortcomings of welfare schemes being run by the TDP government with ease, to my astonishment.
Women from the same village told me how liquor wreaked havoc in the lives of people there and destroyed the family of Parvathamma completely. Both her husband and son fell victim to alcoholism and lost their lives. Unable to bear this loss, she too committed suicide, villagers told me. They pleaded, “Anna, please ensure that liquor does not claim the lives of people in future.“ Sand mining has altered the direction in which rivers flow and has impacted agriculture in a big way. Villagers of Regidi revealed this to me. The area getting submerged is widening, they pointed out. Rampant sand mining is also affecting water supply to Vizianagaram and Srikakulam districts from River Nagavali they pointed out. They revealed that a local TDP leader’s family member was involved in sand mining. “Who can stop others?“, they said. These leaders have no concern for the development of people nor do they have any interest in serving them. Instead, they have got used to making easy money. But then, when government bigwigs are involved in running sand mining mafias, how can you expect their followers not to walk in their footsteps?
Youth from Rajam mandal told me that the road from Kancharam to Dosari was in a terrible shape. They said that they have been complaining to authorities for the past four years about this road which connects seven villages. It is unfortunate that the government which loses no time in laying roads to facilitate sand mining ignores such pressing problems related to roads elsewhere.
My Padayatra moved past the sugar factory near Sankili village this afternoon. I saw farmers transporting sugarcane in tractors. Backward districts such as this sorely need agriculture-based industries. Sugarcane farmers who met me in the region told me that the government support price was hardly enough to help them. In fact, it did not even cover the expenses incurred on wages given two labourers, they pointed out. Villagers told me that in the past, this district had two sugar factories. Inevitably, after Chandrababu Naidu came to power, both these cooperative sugar factories were shut down, they said. With only a private factory remaining in the fray, they were forced to sell their produce at the price set by the private operator, they complained. At the same time, discrepancies in webland were creating huge problems, they lamented.
The village, Ungaradametta, near my Camp Office, is renowned for appadams and women from about 200 families depend on this cottage industry. Their products are in fact sent to other states, it is learnt. Sadly, there is zero government help, these women told me. They said that with a little government encouragement and help, this cottage industry could do much better.
I have a question for the chief minister—while the webland system which you have introduced, has been of no use to anyone, is it not true that it has created a lot of insecurity among farmers? What answer do you have to those who say that this system is only a means to facilitate land-grabbing by you and your cronies?