Talatampara, Srikakulam district: My Padayatra began exactly 14 months ago. This morning I was asked to release the book Avineeti Chakravarti (Emperor of Corruption) on Chandrababu Naidu.
As I proceeded on my padayatra, the story of migrations from every village in Srikakulam which I came across, was indeed very upsetting. Ichhapuram constituency occupies the top place in this sad narrative.
Agriculture has indeed become a challenge under TDP rule. Fishing is equally daunting an occupation under this government. There are no industries and all avenues of employment have dried up.
People who do not get daily work or continue their traditional occupation therefore, have no choice as all options are closed. They are forced to migrate to other places in search of livelihood. Some end up in distant Kolkata or Chennai as construction labourers. Among others who end up as prisoners with Pakistan Navy or are cheated by brokers who promise them lucrative jobs abroad, the names of migrant workers from Srikakulam figure prominently. This is a clear example of government failure which drives so many people to other places in search of employment. My heart overcame with sorrow when I heard of the accounts of these poor villagers who were forced to go to distant places in search of livelihood. Dumparaju is one such young man who left his village in search of employment and has not been heard of. His parents are a worried lot. Rajeswari has a similar tale to tell. Her husband Bairagi has not returned home in over three years. All these were heart-wrenching accounts which I came across.
What does one say about this government which does not take any steps to provide employment to people? Are these rulers who are ruining the lives of farmers and fishermen through a system of middlemen, not responsible for these mass migrations?
Tomato farmers met me near the village of Jinkibadra. These hard-working farmers are known to produce high quality tomatoes. They complained that by some strange coincidence, after harvesting their crop when it came to selling their produce, the prices of tomatoes fell sharply. They could not even recover their investment, they lamented. Under the TDP rule, farmers find themselves at the receiving end with middlemen ruling the roost. The poor farmer invariably ends up in losses under Chandrababu‘s regime where overnight prices dip steeply, making life impossible for farmers.
People from the village of Sompeta complained about incomplete road widening works and the chaotic drainage system. Girl students of Kaviti junior college lamented that over 300 of them in the institution did not have basic toilet facilities. It pained me to listen to their complaints as they told me how ashamed they felt to be forced to go outdoors because they did not have toilet facilities in their junior college.
I have a question for the chief minister—is it human on your part to say that local villagers are migrating to other places for higher incomes, when the ground reality is that people are struggling to survive on a daily basis and are therefore, forced to migrate?