Agraharam, Srikakulam district: My Padayatra has reached its concluding point. I am now moving towards the pylon elected to mark the conclusion of the Padayatra named Vijaya Sankalpam. An auto driver, Venkataram Babu met me during the course of my Padayatra in Dendaluru, West Godavari district. His only son, Manikantha, had a brain tumour. They were told at the hospital that the treatment would cost Rs.6 lakhs and that Arogyasri is not applicable in his case. I was pained to see the father’s helplessness and made arrangements for the boy’s treatment. He underwent surgery and emerged healthy from it. I felt extremely happy and satisfied to see the overjoyed father carry his healthy child to me today.

My Padayatra passed through Kaviti mandal today. This region has the highest number of patients suffering from kidney ailments in the country. With swollen eyes, legs and face their body barely able to carry their weight, there are scores of such people moving through this region whom I came across. Many of them met me. Among them are children of 4-5 years. And ripe old men and women. All of them belong to extremely poor farming background or families of fishermen.

Survival is a challenge for all of them, doctors and dialysis are not accessible, and with no support forthcoming from the government, they lead miserable lives. Villagers who met me near Sriharipuram had an equally tragic tale to narrate. Among them was elderly man, Budhiya, a coconut plantation worker. His children and turned into migrant labourers. They are in no state to get him treated spending lakhs of rupees. His plight is truly pitiable. The story of Bodiya Jamuna was another tragic one. Four members of the family died of kidney disease. Uddanam, once a lush green region of prosperity, was now reduced to a place ridden with kidney disease. People from other places were not coming forward to marry people from this area because of this, villagers pointed out. People who left for other places did not return, leaving it a wasteland. The TDP government simply abandoned Uddanam and left it to its fate.

Local villagers complained that the government did not supply drinking water, but liquor flowed freely throughout the state. Uddanam, already reeling from kidney ailments, was affected further with more local residents suffering kidney damage on account of liquor supply. In such dire circumstances, when people were losing their lives, for the government to focus more on sources of revenue generation through sale of liquor, rather than offer timely medical help, is the most unfortunate aspect of it. Help to Uddanam region from the TDP government remains a distant dream and a mirage.

I have a question for the chief minister--Arogyasri services in the state have come to a standstill because your government has not cleared bills of hospitals. When this is the ground reality, are you not deceiving gullible people of the state by issuing huge advertisements stating that the limits of treatment under Arogyasri have been enhanced to Rs. 5 lakhs and that it would cover deliveries in private hospitals?

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