BHADRACHALAM: Life has come full circle for people like K Murali Kumari, a small-time kirana store owner in Kunavaram village of Khammam district. The mother of two has struggled with her husband for years to make her children engineers and this year, her dream has come true. But what seemed like a rosy future suddenly turned into a nightmare for her — even before her children could get a job.
Government officials told her their only property, a residence-cum-shop, falls under the Polavaram submergence area.
“Where else can we go? We spent our lives building this house and shop to retire happily once our children get jobs. But the officials said we will get compensation only for the property. At the age of over 50, we have no option but to start from scratch until the children settle down in good jobs,” a heart-broken Kumari laments.
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This uncertainty over future has cast a shadow over all the villages in the seven mandals of Khammam district which have been merged with Andhra Pradesh for facilitating the smooth construction of the multi-purpose Polavaram project.
“There is no clarity on the relief and rehabilitation package from the government except empty promises. The government did not even take our opinion before making the announcement over the Polavaram project. They will meet with resistance when land acquisition begins,” an angry J Dasaratha Ramaiah, an agricultural labourer from Thotapalli, says.
At 70, Thota Narasaiah of Seetampeta fears his grandchildren will have to go through all the troubles that his parents had once gone through. “Though I was born when the Bhadrachalam division was part of the Godavari district, I have never been to that part of the State. But I remember my parents travelling for three days on foot or by boat to reach Kakinada and if this region becomes part of Andhra, we have to travel up to Rajahmundry or Kakinada again. The only relief is that people can now travel by bus,” he explains.
One can sense anger amongst the people here against the Telangana leaders. “Not a single leader has bothered to support us or at least, visit us,” fumes Chenna Reddy, a farmer of Yatapaka. Not surprisingly, both tribals and non-tribals feel betrayed by Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao. “We were used as a bait to get the Andhra politicians agree to the formation of Telangana state. KCR’s silence during the passage of the AP Reorganisation Bill proved this. The noises he is making over the issue now are only a token protest. Is this what we get for fighting for a separate Telangana?” questions Balla Ramaswamy of Seetampeta village. He fears his children will not be able to get jobs in their “native state of Telangana” in future.
However, for some farmers like Prabhakar Reddy and M Ramakrishna of Kannayigudem, the bigger issue is not whether they are with Telangana or Andhra, but whether they are in Bhadrachalam. As long as they are not separated from Bhadrachalam, they are least bothered about other consequences.
“Telangana or Andhra, it makes little difference to us. All we need is to be part of Bhadrachalam division. Just like Hyderabad is of value for both the states, Bhadrachalam is the lifeline for us. We cannot cross two checkposts and pay taxes to reach the nearest market,” they point out.