TDP banks on YSRC’s failure to address local issues in Punganur

Fierce battle in Punganur: YSRC's Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy vs. TDP's Challa Ramachandra Reddy. Avulapalli reservoir project sparks local opposition.
TDP banks on YSRC’s failure to 
address local issues in Punganur

TIRUPATI : The Punganur Assembly constituency is witnessing a fiercely-contested battle with Energy Minister Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy keen on winning from the segment for the fourth straight time and the TDP striving hard to make a come back in YSRC’s bastion by fielding Challa Ramachandra Reddy, also known as Challa Babu.

The Avulapalli reservoir project in Somala mandal has emerged as one of the significant challenges for incumbent MLA Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy. Taken up by the YSRC government, the project aims to construct the Avulapalli, Nethiguntapalli, and Mudivedu reservoirs under a single package.

Farmers in the region have strongly opposed the Avulapalli reservoir project as they are unwilling to hand over their farmlands. Nearly 500 farmers in Avulapalli, Pedda Upparapalli, and Ammagaripalle panchayats are likely to face displacement, if the project is taken up.

There is widespread resentment among farmers and families who were displaced without adequate compensation. The lack of compensation and the adverse environmental impacts of these projects have left affected families and farmers feeling neglected and aggrieved.

The Avulapalli reservoir, which has a storage capacity of 2.5 TMC (thousand million cubic feet), is intended for irrigation, while the other two aim to provide drinking water to the region. Land acquisition for the project, spanning 1522.29 acres, is ongoing.

However, construction was halted in May last year due to legal issues with the National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposing a Rs 100-crore penalty on the State for alleged non-compliance with environmental guidelines, leading to the nullification of the environmental clearance (EC). Although the Supreme Court temporarily stayed the order pending appeal, it required the State to deposit Rs 25 crore with the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB), with the final amount pending judgement.

Additionally, dairy farmers in the constituency have been facing economic hardships as they are forced to sell milk exclusively to a private dairy, reportedly owned by key YSRC leaders in the constituency. This arrangement has proven to be non-remunerative for farmers as they are compelled to sell milk solely to this dairy.

“The lack of competition has led to suppressed prices and limited bargaining power for us, exacerbating our financial struggles. We are forced to sell milk for the price fixed by a private dairy in the segment. The State government has to intervene in the issue and take measures for providing a remunerative price for us in the region,” said Arif, a dairy farmer from Punganur division.

Furthermore, mango and sugarcane farmers in the constituency are experiencing significant distress as they are compelled to sell their produce at a loss to middlemen. This exploitative situation has led to widespread dissatisfaction and frustration among farmers.

In this backdrop, TDP candidate Challa Babu has been actively engaging with the grassroots in the constituency.

“Many local issues remain unaddressed under the YSRC regime. Farmers and project-displaced families are stressed due to inadequate compensation in relation to projects undertaken by contract firms of ruling party leaders. We will campaign on the YSRC’s failure in addressing local issues in Punganur. Voters in the segment are going to give Peddireddy a shock and a thumping majority to the TDP,” Challa Babu asserted.

Situated under the Rajampet Lok Sabha constituency, Punganur has been a general seat since it was established. The constituency includes Punganur, Sadum, Somala, Choudepalli, Pulicherla, and Rompicherla mandals, with over 2,00,000 voters.

Reddy, Muslim, and Balija communities have significant influence. There’s also a presence of Scheduled Castes. However, the Reddy community primarily dominates the political landscape.

Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy has won Punganur three times in a row: 2009, 2014, 2019. The TDP dominated the segment in 1985, 1989, 1994, 1996, and 2004 polls.

Stating that YSRC’s focus on development and welfare would ensure a resounding victory for the party in the segment, Pedireddy said, “In the last five years, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has taken many steps for minority welfare. People are ready to re-elect Jagan as Chief Minister. We have developed Punganur constituency. Soon, we will provide tap connections to each and every household in the segment.”

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