Gandikota reservoir oustees are in deep waters

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State announces Rs 471 crore relief package for victims.

Kurnool: Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu is all set to release Gandikota water to Pulivendula on January 11. AP State Legislative Council Deputy Chairman Satish Reddy, a bête noire of Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, who belongs to Pulivendula, had pledged not to tonsure his head till the Gandikota waters enter Pulivendula. For the villagers displaced by Gandikota backwaters, it has been a misery with many of them having lost all their memories, history, assets and also some near and dear ones.

Villagers of Chowtupalle were among the last to have stepped out of their houses to head for safer reaches. Earlier, residents of Gundlur, Bommaipalle and Seetarampuram abandoned their villages. For generations, they had been eking out their livelihood in peace and had been doing well by cultivating their farm lands. Nestled in the vicinity of historic Gandikota Fort on one side and the Mylavaram dam on the other, the villages never had to look for anything beyond their village borders.

The compulsions of politics had a diabolic effect on their very existence. Till Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy became the Chief Minister, there was no proposal to take water from Gandikota to Pulivendula. With the political power, the then CM desig-ned a scheme to carry Krishna Water to Pulivendula through Gandikota reservoir. Otherwise, Gandikota gorge flowed only Pennar water which was stored at Mylavaram reservoir.

Chowtupalle was the last of the 14 villages that were submerged in the back waters of Gandikota project and forced to leave. With a heavy heart, Y. Konda Reddy, 55, said that never in his lifetime did he move out of his village. “The very thought that nothing belongs to this village makes my heart feel heavy,” he said, looking at the spacious house his forefathers had built.

Chowtupalle, with about 911 houses, saw 80 per cent of the village submerged by the backwaters of Gandikota reservoir. Some people demolished their houses carted away the useful timber, iron, door frames and window frames to the rehabilitation centres put up at Ponnathota, Gandlur and Obannapet. The tractors were kept at the service of the villages by the government.

As government has released relief package of Rs 471 crores, these people are looking to receiving their portion to lead a new life. While villagers are carrying as much as they could from their belongings to the relief camps, the remaining things are being sold at ‘as is where is basis’. Cattle dealers are buying buffaloes, cows and ox at steep discounts.

A farmer said that he sold his  ox worth about Rs 75,000 for just Rs 20,000. What is heart rendering in this last village that has been shifted out to rescue and relief camp is that relatives have been dispersed.

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