Kidney Disease and migrations top concerns for voters in Andhra

According to some estimates, about 4,500 people have died from the rare medical phenomenon and as many as 35,000 people have been affected by kidney disease in seven mandals under Uddanam region in Andhra.
Image used for representational purposes.
Image used for representational purposes. (File photo | Express)

KRIKAKULAM : Ichchapuram Assembly segment has been one of the bastions of the TDP since the party’s inception. The yellow party has won the segment eight of the nine times that elections have been conducted.

The ruling YSRC, that has been facing severe dissidence in the region, has nominated Piriya Vijaya, wife of Piriya Sairaj, who won the seat in 2009 on a TDP ticket, but joined YSRC in 2013. On the other hand, the TDP has renominated sitting MLA Bendalam Ashok, who is vying for a hat-trick win.

Earlier, Vijaya won the Kaviti Mandal ZPTC and has served as Srikakulam ZP chairperson.

The constituency, which comprises Ichchapuram, Kaviti, Kanchili, and Sompeta mandals has a diverse demographic composition. Reddika, Yadava, and fishermen communities are the dominant communities in the constituency. However, Kalinga, Bentho Oriya, and Sri Shayana communities also play a crucial role in influencing the poll outcome.

Ichchapuram Assembly segment is a part of the Uddanam region, which has been in the national headlines for the past few decades for the spread of chronic kidney disease (CKD) and the Sompeta thermal power plant struggle that claimed three lives of farmers during police firing in 2010.

Uddanam nephropathy came to light after actor-politician Pawan Kalyan had staged a protest in Ichchapuram in 2018, demanding the then TDP government to find the cause for the kidney diseases in this region. The previous TDP government had conducted medical tests in 104 villages, established RO water plants, established dialysis centres, and increased the social security pension to Rs 2,500 for kidney patients.

Piriya Vijaya, YSRC
Piriya Vijaya, YSRC

According to some estimates, about 4,500 people have died from the rare medical phenomenon and as many as 35,000 people have been affected by kidney disease in seven mandals under Uddanam region. The World Health Organization (WHO) has identified Uddanam region as one of the three areas in the world with high prevalence of chronic kidney disease.

After forming the government in 2019, the YSRC increased the social security pension to Rs 10,000 for CKD patients, besides setting up a 200-bed super speciality hospital at Palasa and providing safe drinking water under the Uddanam water project.

However, the government has failed to find the exact cause behind the prevalence of the kidney disease. Local YSRC leaders have also failed to explain the people what the government has done for the kidney patients.

Migration is another issue that has marred Ichchapuram. The reason for the migrations is lack of water resources for cultivation.

Bendalam Ashok, TDP
Bendalam Ashok, TDP

The previous government led by TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu had sanctioned the Vamsadhara-Bahuda river link project that could provide water for seven mandals with an estimated cost of `6,400 crore under the Accelerated Irrigation Benefits Programme (AIBP) and finalised the tenders.

However, the YSRC government cancelled the tenders on the pretext of ratification. As a result, farmers in this region were forced to move to other States in search of livelihood.

Additionally, the government has not been able to establish a coconut research centre in the region where coconuts are cultivated in more than 40,000 acres. At least 1.5 lakh farmers, daily wage labourers, and traders are directly or indirectly dependent on coconut cultivation.

The farmers have been complaining of various diseases affecting their coconut crop. In this backdrop, they have been requesting a research centre in the region. While the ruling YSRC did promise to set up the research centre and a coconut park, there has been no progress on that front.

Meanwhile, the TDP has been able to establish a stronghold in the region, thanks to the severe dissidence within the YSRC. The YSRC’s three top leaders in the region—Piriya Sairaj, Narthu Rama Rao and Syam Prasad Reddy—belong to three different dominant communities—Kalinga, Yadava and Reddika respectively.

However, this time the YSRC top brass has nominated Narthu Rama Rao as MLC, Syam Prasad Reddy as chairman of the Society for Employment Generation and Enterprises Development Corporation, and Piriya Vijaya as the MLA candidate, hoping to suppress the dissidence.

Highlighting the YSRC’s initiatives in the region, Piriya Vijaya told TNIE, “There has been no development in Ichchapuram in the five decades of TDP rule. We have been providing `10,000 social security pension to kidney patients. We have set up a 200-bed super speciality hospital with `200 crore at Palasa. We have also launched the Uddanam water project with `700 crore to provide safe drinking water to at least 300 villages where kidney diseases are prevalent. We have been focusing on irrigation projects and the establishment of a coconut park.”

Exuding confidence of winning the seat, she asserted that all was well among leaders in the party.

However, Vamsadhara Jala Sadhana Committee convener Dr Pradhana Sivaji begged to differ. He said, “The ruling YSRC has taken temporary measures for kidney patients and failed to find the exact reason for the kidney diseases. The people of Uddanam are forced to migrate to other States due to lack of water resources for cultivation. The government has cancelled the Vamsadhara-Bahuda river linkage project in the name of ratification. Coconut farmers have been facing problems due to several diseases of the crop as well as a lack of lucrative prices for their produce.”

Related Stories

No stories found.

The New Indian Express