KUPPAM (CHITTOOR DIST): As the Kochuveli Express chugged into the Kuppam railway station around 7.10 p.m., the usually quiet station was suddenly abuzz with activity. The train, like several others that arrive from Bangalore, brings home thousands of migrant workers and software engineers belonging to Kuppam town and nearby mandals.
This is a journey that over 5,000 people, mostly daily wagers, have been undertaking for the last three years. Literally, thousands from Kuppam and other parts of Chittoor district migrate to Bangalore every day in search of work. Their only hope is Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, the son of the soil, who completed 100 days in office Monday.
While a section of people are optimistic that under Naidu’s regime, they need no longer migrate, there are others who point out that nothing much has changed ever since the TDP came to power. The government has promised an airport for Kuppam besides some industries.
A few years ago, when Kuppam witnessed development, people from five nearby mandals and also from the bordering Tamil Nadu and Karnataka mandals had found livelihood in the town and its surroundings — Israeli technology, through which horticulture prospered here, provided better living for daily workers. With agriculture picking up, other economic activities too gained momentum.
Sadly, those days are gone. Scanty rainfall in the last four years has hit farmers hard and adding to the misery, the main rivers that feed the crops in the region, Palar and Kangundi, are running out of water over the past six years thanks to the construction of check dams in Karnataka. Nowadays, farmers find it difficult to find water even if they drill up to 1,000 ft. “Bangalore has been our destination for the past three years after Kuppam lost its sheen. Soon after the TDP government came to power, a section of people stopped going to Bangalore for work in the belief that they will get work here itself. But now, they too are coming with us as nothing has been done,” Munindra of Kuppam town, who works as a security guard at an ATM of a private bank in Bangalore, told Express. Of those who migrate to Bangalore, 60-70 per cent work as construction workers. With the announcement of an airport and industries, people of Kuppam and nearby mandals once again hope they can find livelihood in Kuppam itself. “The government is just three months old. I personally think, it needs to be given more time. The State bifurcation proved a bane for AP. Had the state not been divided, Naidu sir would have kept his promise, whatever it is, right from loan waiver to other development activities,” M Prabhakar Reddy of Chinta Kuppam, an ITI passout who works in a private factory at V Kota asserts.
There isn’t much opposition to the government amongst the farmers. Given the unfavourable seasonal conditions, not many of them are into farming and do not have loans. “What can anyone do if there are no rains? No doubt, if the loans are waived, we would be benefited. More than loan waiver, we are looking towards rains,” Prabhakar Reddy and Ganesh, who are erecting fences to ward off boars at their dying groundnut fields at Atti Kuppam, say.