Veligonda project: Oustees seek increased package
- Say the Rs 12.5 lakh R&R package being offered to them is not enough as many of them have piled up debts up to Rs 10 lakh from private lenders since they are not given any govt benefits after their villages have been notified as submerged ones
- They demand compensation of at least Rs 20 lakh taking wife and husband as unit, instead of entire household
- Officials identified around 7,555 families from 11 submerging villages and promised to construct rehabilitation colonies for them
Markapuram (Prakasam district): The displaced families of the Pula Subbaiah Veligonda Project in the district say that the Rs 12.5 lakh compensation being offered to them as rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R) package is not enough and demand the government to increase it to at least Rs 20 lakh. They say that due to the non-implementation of government schemes in the project-submerging villages, they were forced to take private loans and will be left with nothing after clearing them with compensation amount.
Veligonda project, whose construction started in 2005, will draw 43.58 tmc ft of floodwater from the backwaters of Srisailam reservoir after completion. The water travels through two tunnels of more than 18 km in length and fills Nallamala Sagar with 10 tmc ft dead storage capacity, constructed by closing three natural gaps between hills at Sunkesula, Gottipadiya, and Kakarla. Once floodwater is received, the project provides water to nearly 4.47 lakh acre land fully utilised, 15.25 lakh people get the safe drinking water in 737 villages in 23 mandals of Prakasam, 5 mandals of Nellore, and two mandals of Kadapa districts. The officials identified that about 7,555 families from 11 submerging villages viz., Sunkesula, Kalanuthala, Gundamcherla, Chintalamudipi, Katamrajuthanda, Gottipadia, Ramalingeswarapuram, Sainagar, Krishnanagar, Akkacheruvu and Lakshmipuram will be affected by the construction of the Veligonda project.
The government identified places for constructing the settlement colonies at Idupuru 1, 2 and 3, Thokapalli, Goguladinne, Vemulakota, and Ondutla started to provide internal roads, school, aanganwadi center, community hall, temple, church, peerla chavidi etc.
In a recent meeting, the government has decided to provide Rs 12.50 lakh as one-time settlement of the R&R package. It estimated that a total of Rs 1,301 crores is required for the package. The displaced families expressed dissatisfaction and demanded enhanced compensation.
Bandi Yesuratnam of Sunkesula said that they are poor and were living in the same village for generations tilling land. "We have not receiving any government benefits ever since our villages have been notified as submerged villages forcing us to avail . We are taking private loans at hefty interest. Almost 90 per cent of the affected families are small farmers and farm workers with each family having loans of nearly Rs 10lakh," he said.
Y Kondalu, another villager, said YSRCP leaders during election campaign promised Rs 24 lakh under R&R package if they come to the power. He said in the past 15 years, many farmers have spent nearly Rs 7 to 8 lakhs just to dig borewells for the water for crops by taking loans from others. Now the government is announcing to complete the first tunnel and provide water soon, but without considering the sacrifices of the people in submerging villages. The government should enhance the R&R package to Rs 20 lakh and consider the wife and husband as one unit instead of the household, he demanded.
The families of the submerging villages submitted a representation to the Markapuram RDO and announced to organise a 'Chalo Amaravati'. However, the officials say that they have not got any orders from the government yet and advised the people to restrain for now. The special deputy collector of the Veligonda project, B Chandraleela, said that they have not yet finalised the package as the government order is not received. She said that the government has considered the package given to the Polavaram oustees and approved the recommendations made by the higher officials. She said that she will forward the concerns of the locals to the government.