Reddypeta, Srikakulam district: My Padayatra began today from Echherla constituency near Dhavalapeta. Later, it entered Amadalavalasa constituency near Ponduru. The place, Ponduru, is synonymous with Khaddar. The making of Khadi is not merely a vocation, but an art, a craft of the highest quality. Beginning with Mahatma Gandhi, Khaddar or Khadi from Ponduru has become popular with great leaders in our own country and across the world. My father also was particularly fond of this variety of Khaddar. Sadly, this art is now losing its pre-eminent position.

With no proper returns for their hard work, many people associated with this cottage industry, are now becoming migrant workers. This is what Khadi workers who met me in the morning told me. They expressed their deep anguish saying that if this state of affairs continued, and if no government help was forthcoming, the industry faces the threat of extinction.

Amadalavalasa gave us weightlifters of renown such as Karanam Malleswari and several others. There is no dearth of talent when it comes to sports here. However, government support is missing. This was reiterated by Anmish Verma, who had won a gold medal in world kickboxing competitions held at Athens in October. He said that with a little support and encouragement from the government, this region could produce many sportsmen like him. Girl students of schools from many places including Anandapuram, Vandrangi, Rapaka and other places, came and met me today. They told me that there were no roads leading to many villages. The other day it was Palakonda, Echherla yesterday and Amadalavalasa today. Roads were in a deplorable state everywhere, as villagers complained. The government claims that it is spending crores of rupees on building roads in villages. Where is all that money going?

Girl students belonging to SC, ST and BC communities complained that they were not getting scholarships. They get a paltry Rs.2000 per year which is barely enough for their educational needs and is not an amount worth mentioning at all. But, what do you say of a government which denies them even this amount of Rs.2000? Is the budget allocated to the welfare of these backward and downtrodden communities merely a mirage? Villagers of Tadivalasa pointed out that the check dam built on Rellugadda at a cost of crores of rupees got washed away in three months!  This itself was a reflection of the rampant corruption of the ruling TDP leaders, they remarked. Villagers of Ponduru mandal said that while funds had been sanctioned during my father’s tenure and more than half the work related to phase 2 of Madduvalasa project had been completed, there has been no progress on the remaining works after Chandrababu Naidu came to power. It is unfortunate that this government is unmoved by the fact that thousands of acres are getting irrigated. Farmers of GC Gadam also complained that there was no water in the right canal of Madduvalasa. Crores of rupees were siphoned off under Neeru-Chettu program but lining and repair work was not done, the local villagers lamented. If this is the attitude of the government, what can farmers do other than become migrant workers, run brick kilns or turn into poultry farmers?

Balasalarevu bridge would serve as a lifeline of Echherla and Amadalavalasa constituencies. It will connect 80 villages over a radius of 40 km. This is what I was told by those who had been struggling for this bridge. They told me that this was one of the promises made by Chandrababu Naidu.  For about 650 days people had been agitating for this bridge and yet the apathy of the government was such that it was still not being built, they complained.

I have a question for the chief minister—right after taking oath of office, you had promised prompt payment of scholarships to students belonging to SC/ST/BC and minority communities. After backsliding on your promise, you made your officials tell the students that their scholarships would be given to them once in three months. Even this has not happened. Is it not true that there is no record of scholarships to many students for an entire year? What answer do you have to students from a deprived background who complain that they have not received scholarships after you assumed office?

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