It's a saga of water war for the residents from this sleepy village abutting Bhimavaram town. They are waging a grim battle against a Non-Governmental Organisation for exploiting their village tanks for water business in the guise of social service. The villagers led by sarpanch Varada Parla Jayalakshmi came to the district headquarters to petition Collector A. Vani Prasad a few days ago seeking steps to stop water business in their village.

Raju Vegesna Foundation, a local NGO, has established a water plant connecting the two major village tanks with an understanding to provide safe drinking water to all the residents at cheaper rates. The plant, which filters 30,000 litres a day, initially offered a 12 litre can for Rs 2. As per the NGO's undertaking given to the gram panchayat, the mineral water produced in the plant is exclusively meant for only the village people. The NGO has reportedly increased water rates up to Rs. 10 per can and is exploiting the tanks for commercial considerations. According to Ashok, a village youth, the NGO sells water drawn from the two major village tanks to hotels, hospitals and supplies the precious liquid to a nearby engineering college allegedly run by its founders. He said the village was facing acute drinking water problem because of over-exploitation of tank water by the NGO.

Rough estimates suggest that the village with 8,000 population requires over 5 lakh litres of drinking water a day. Yedukondalu, husband of the sapranch, said the gram panchayat officials are refusing to give tap connections to the households in their alleged bid to help the NGO for prospering in water business. When the panchayat authorities reportedly remained indifferent over the applications submitted by the residents for tap connections, around 400 residents, mostly from SCs and BCs, drew piped water on their own by connecting their households to the panchayat's mainline. Ketha Gopalan, a local CPI (M) leader said, any attempts by the panchayat to remove the tap connections accorded voluntarily by the residents would be met with a stiff resistance.

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