Jagathi, Srikakulam district: Today my Padayatra moved through the villages of Manikyapuram, Balliputtuga, Varsha, Borivanka and Jagathi. This morning, representatives of the association for the rights of the differently-abled, met me. They expressed their anguish about vacancies not being filled up during Chandrababu Naidu‘s tenure.
My father had introduced several pioneering schemes for the welfare of the handicapped to enable them lead a life of dignity and to ensure that they are not a burden for their families. They lamented that the opportunities created by my father evaporated during Chandrababu‘s tenure.
Nirmala Kumari and Vimala Kumari who came from Bhimavaram, reiterated the same point. Their younger sister Santha Kumari was born deaf-mute. Thanks to the job she was given during my father's time, she is able to support herself. I felt extremely happy to hear them express their gratitude to me saying that the entire family now depended on this disabled girl for making both ends meet. They compiled the Padayatra diary published in ‘Sakshi’ every day, put it together as a book and offered it to me. They also wrote a poem on my journey through 13 districts during the course of the walkathon and recited it to me. They were overwhelmed with emotion when they meet me in person.
The places through which I walked today on my Padayatra were filled with coconut trees. This region is famous all over the country for coconut trees which grow very tall. Coconuts from these parts are sent to northern states. Unfortunately, these coconut trees have been badly destroyed by Cyclone Titli. I could see uprooted coconut trees and plantations everywhere along the way. There was graveyard desolation in these plantations which were earlier a prettier sight than parts of Konaseema. They were filled with these trees till very recently. When these giant coconut trees of 30 to 40 years got uprooted, along with them the lives of many families also got uprooted and were plunged into darkness.
A coconut tree in these parts is like the older son. Villagers lamented that even if a fresh coconut sapling is to be planted, it would take 10 years for it to become a fruit-bearing tree. Teary-eyed farmers said that they were left with no option now but to migrate to other places in search of work. It saddens me to learn that in the villages of Kalingapatnam, Iddevanipalem and others, barring children, aged and women, all men had left for other places for their livelihood as migrant workers. There is a large Temple near Kusumpuram by the road which was built by migrant labourers. The temple stands as a mirror to the migration of villagers from these parts. Looking at the intensity and severity of this problem on a day-to-day basis over the past few months, I decided even more firmly to put an end to this crisis of migration and restore these parts to their former glory.
Employees working in Sarva Siksha Abhiyan met me today. They complained saying that the government extracted work from them, but was cutting their salaries. Chandrababu Naidu had promised to regularise their jobs, but had deceived them on this count, they lamented.
Members of the Bentho community who hailed from Odisha and had settled here in large numbers met me this morning said that in the past they were recognised as STs, but the certificates for not being given to them now. Their parents had the certificates, while they were denied their rights, they complained. For decades categorisation of castes had not taken place and even nativity certificates were not being given to them, they complained. “What will happen to the future of our children”, was their question.
I have a question for the chief minister— you had promised a coconut food park and coconut research centres to be set up here. What happened to that promise? What answer do you have to coconut farmers who say that their crops had been completely destroyed and that they have not received any compensation? You had promised to provide coconut saplings which would bear fruits in three years. What happened to that commitment of yours?