VIJAYAWADA: A tense situation prevailed at Ramavarappadu Ring Road area on the city outskirts on Sunday morning as with people living on the bunds of Ryves Canal staged a rasta rook to oppose dismantling of their houses.
A large contingent of revenue and police officials arrived at Ramavarappadu early on Sunday to remove the huts and other structures from Ryves Canal bund area. Strongly opposing the move, hundreds of locals rushed out of their houses and stopped the officials. Protesters said there was no prior notice about the demolitions.
Heated arguments ensued between the officials and the locals. Some people even tried to immolate self in protest, but were stopped in time by others and the police personnel present on the spot. Meanwhile, on being alerted of the situation, Gannavaram MLA Vallabhaneni Vamsi rushed to the spot with his followers and extended support to the agitating locals.
The locals, led by the MLA, resorted to a rasta roko on NH 16, leading to heavy traffic jam on both sides. Left with no option, the revenue officials retreated and the protesters lifted the road blocade.
Officials want to remove around 400 houses from the area to make way for Ramavarappadu Flyover as part of Vijayawada Inner Ring Road project, which has been pending for several years. Already 150 houses were dismantled as part of the project earlier and the displaced were rehabilitated in Jakkampudi area of the city.
However, remaining locals opposed the demolitions. “We are living here for decades now. Why should we lose our houses to make way for the mansions and hotels of the rich people,” a middle aged protesters demanded to know.
The flyover project was realigned several times due to repeated objections. The locals claim that the main reason for the realignment of the flyover was to ensure the hotel belonging to a Congress leader is saved. “Should we sacrifice our houses for the sake of one man’s property? We will not let the officials destroy our houses. If they want to go ahead, let them do it over our bodies,” an agitated woman protestor said.
Most residents, who are daily wagers, questioned the rationale of demolishing their houses even as the government is parroting the themes of welfare of the poor. There is a mosque and a temple in the area, which the people of the area fear, would be dismantled along with the houses. Muslims in the locality made it clear that they will not let it happen.
Meanwhile, Gannavaram MLA Vallabhaneni Vamsi assured the locals that there houses will not be removed forcefully. “I already spoke with the Chief Minister about the issue and he too is against the forceful eviction,” he said and blamed the district collector and other officials for the current situation. “As long as I remain the MLA, there will not be any forceful eviction,” he said.
Case against MLA Vamsi
Patamata police registered cases against Gannavaram MLA Vallabhaneni Vamsi and some of the protestors for the rasta-roko on NH 16 at Ramavarappadu Ring. The rasta rook caused heavy traffic jam on Sunday morning. Taking exception to the officials initiating action against him, the legislator surrendered the gunmen allotted to him back to the Government. He reiterated that he will support the residents of the Ryves canal bund at Ramavarappadu Ring and will not allow their forced eviction.