This morning when I set out on another leg of my long journey from Sadasivapuram Cross, I came across another heart-rending tale of government neglect and apathy. A couple came to me with their four-year-old child Shashi, who was suffering from eye cancer. She had lost vision in one eye and the malignancy spread to the other eye, as well.
When they went to Hyderabad with their Arogyasri health card they were told that it was no longer valid there. This couple earns its livelihood by working as daily wage labourers. Where would they get lakhs of rupees to get their child treated? How can they see their child’s life slip away in front of their eyes as they watch helplessly? Their agony was indescribable. Such incidents highlight the urgent necessity of expanding the scope of Arogyasri to neighbouring states.
Further ahead, by the road near Munagalapalem, I saw a column which symbolised the oppressive Chandrababu Naidu regime. It bore testimony to the atrocities committed by Telugu Desam leaders on the villagers who resisted the criminal activities of the sand mafia. These common citizens were fighting for justice and approached the police authorities at Yerpedu police station and died in a horrific lorry accident, mowed down by a truck. This column stood as a tribute to those martyrs. Many families lost their wage-earners in that ghastly accident and in one fell swoop, were driven to the brink of abject poverty. It was only after I visited the affected families that the government cared to respond, but what did it do? It has not initiated any action against those responsible for operating the sand mafia syndicate. It is obvious to the people at large as to who backs the sand mafia—this becomes all the more evident when we see the criminals who run the mafia moving about scot free! The support they enjoy from the authorities is crystal clear.
Scores of people came to me with petitions narrating how they had to surrender their land for the expansion of airports and the establishment of industries. These were common villagers and farmers in hamlet after hamlet. They had to forego precious land worth lakhs of rupees and what did they get in return? A token amount of compensation! TDP leaders in collusion with authorities managed to fudge land records of the innocent poor. While these TDP leaders and their proxies claimed crores of rupees as compensation for assigned lands as well, they snatched land belonging to the poor against the will of the land owner forcing many poor farmers to go to court, especially with regard to assigned lands.
In conclusion I have a question for the Chief Minister. In spite of several protests appeals and complaints against the atrocities committed by the sand mafia, why have you not cracked down on it? If you had taken timely action against the sand syndicate, is it not true that incidents like the tragic one at Yerpedu would not have happened? Even when atrocities are committed against officials who stand up to the brute force of the sand mafia why is it that your government remains a mute spectator? Why has no action been taken against these criminals who run the sand mafia? Is it not true that you have been patronising the activities of the sand mafia?