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Pandrangi (Visakhapatnam): The public address system blares out patriotic songs, children gather around and amidst police security, leaders including MLAs, Minister and Collector deliver speeches. But majority of the villagers are not even looking at the programme underway and are engaged in their daily and routine activities. Some stay at the meeting venue for a few minutes and leave the place.

This was the scene at the venue of the Alluri Sitarama Raju Jayanthi celebrations held in honour of the freedom fighter and leader of Rampa Rebellion organised at his birth place Pandrangi village of Padmanabham mandal on Tuesday. Sitarama Raju was born in the village and left it to participate in the freedom struggle. 

The district administration had organised a programme as a routine annual fest at Pandrangi which is 30-km away from Vizag city.  Except the school children, teachers, officials and a group of TDP activists, the villagers of Pandrangi did not participate in the celebrations. After lengthy speeches of leaders and officials including  minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao some students performed skits on Alluri Sitarama Raju written and prompted by their teachers.

There are many reasons for this visible indifference from the local residents. With lots of long pending troubles and problems, no villager was happy to take part from the calm and peaceful village whose 6,000 voters were adopted by Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu, after he was elected from Andhra Pradesh to Rajya Sabha. The villagers point out the government that except on Alluri's Jayanthi and Vardhanthi no official takes care of their needs.  

Surprisingly, the students who attended the programme are also not much aware about Alluri Sitarama Raju’s contribution to the nation and his rebellion against the Britishers. Some of the class 10 students say that Sitaramaraju is a leader and they are not aware about his life history. The small house where Sitarama Raju was born was also locked and not decorated with even a garland on his Jayanthi celebrations. 

K. Suriramulu, B. Appanna, S Appalakonda, P.Chinaramulu and Gedela Sanyasamma along with some other villagers were spending time close to the Jayanthi celebrations venue and not bothered about the issue. As they said: "For a long time, according to my knowledge we are asking a bridge on Gosthani River to go Revidi and Padmanabham for our all needs. During the rainy season from August to December, the low level concrete road would be under minimum six feet water and pregnant ladies find it difficult to reach the hospital in Revidi.

We have only one upper primary school and the high school students have to attend school almost under five feet water, if there is flood. Yes, we are very much proud about Alluri Sitarama Raju, but what has the government given this village, from where India's legendary revolutionary fought for freedom?" they enquire. 

K Atchhayamma, P. Sai Lakshmi, B. Hyma and Lalitha, sitting in front of Alluri Sitarama Raju's house lamented that every year on July 4, the sanitation workers clean the roads. "Except that road cleaning there is nothing special to remember Alluri Sitarama Raju's birth place. We are living in very small houses, officials are asking to construct individual toilets. We are asking to construct community toilet for ladies, but in vain.

The officials promised to provide garbage collection boxes and it is yet to be provided. Look at the Alluri's birth house on his Jayanthi day, it is locked," Atchhayamma lamented. To reach this historical village people have to travel 12-km from Anandapuram wholesale flower market located on the NH-5 (Vizag-Srikakulam).

This narrow road  also worsens during the rainy season and people say several accidents take place. "Some of the officials informed that the village has been adopted by Union Railway Minister and good days are ahead, but for the past one year there is nothing new," P Lakshmi, government teacher said.

By VKL Gayatri