RAJAMAHENDRAVARAM: Heavy inflows to the River Godavari and the subsequent flooding of five villages adjacent to the pilgrimage town of Bhadrachalam in Telangana have left the people divided. While some of them are in agitation mode seeking the villages to be merged with the neighbouring State, another group is opposing them.
The protests demanding the merger gains significance in the wake of Telangana Transport Minister Puvvada Ajay Kumar blaming the increase in height of the Polvaram Irrigation Project for the inundation of five villages. He demanded the Andhra Pradesh government hand over the villages to Telangana.
The five villages — Yetapaka, Gundala, Pichukalapadu, Kannaigudem and Purushothapatnam of Alluri Sitarama Raju district — received relief and rehabilitation from the Telangana government as it was impossible for the Andhra Pradesh administration to reach the villages. Relief materials had to be airdropped with the help of the Indian Navy.
Against this backdrop, some locals from the flood-hit villages demanded the merger of villages with Telangana. They also pointed out that they have to travel over 200 km to reach the district headquarters, Paderu, for any work. On Sunday, protesters blocked a road at Rajupeta centre near the AP-Telangana border, pressing for the merger.
Degala Ramakrishna, leading the protest, said the five villages will not be affected by the Polavaram project, but opined that they were unnecessary merged with AP in 2014.“We have to depend on Bhadrachalam for our livelihood. Once Polavaram project gets completed, people living in four mandals will have no access to Andhra Pradesh,” he said, adding that the region could develop only if the villages are merged with Telangana.
Ramakrishna alleged that as the AP police did not allow them to stage a dharna, they went to Rajupeta to launch their agitation. “We will continue the agitation till our demand is met,” he asserted. Meanwhile, another section is against the merger. “There is no question of a merger with Telangana. In fact, we want Bhadrachalam to be merged with Andhra Pradesh,’’ Gonagdi Venkatarami Reddy, Mandal Parishad Territorial Constituency (MPTC) member, Gundala, opined.
Stating that people are happy with the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government’s welfare schemes, Venkatarami Reddy said they want to remain in AP. “We also held a meeting with the sarpanches of the five villages and passed a resolution against the propaganda being spread that some people want the villages to be merged with Telangana,” he said.
Venkatarami Reddy pointed out that as promised, the government has distributed Rs 2,000 each to every flood-affected family. Claiming that some political parties are provoking the locals to stage dharnas, he agreed that they have been depending on Bhadrachalam for education and medical facilities.
“We are asking the Central and State governments to merge Bhadrachalam with Andhra and make it the district headquarters. It would then be possible to build a huge flood bank from Bhadrachalam to the five villages,” he said.
They have also coined slogans like “Telangana vaddu, Andhra muddu (No to Telangana, Yes to Andhra)” against the merger. Another MPTC member Balakrishna said people would launch an agitation if anybody tried to merge any part of AP with Telangana.