Four of their main demands will be conceded, says Lav Agarwal

More than 2,000 people, including many women from Vaadanarsapuram and Kothapatnam in Rambilli mandal and Bangarammapalem in S. Rayavaram mandal, who have been displaced by the Naval Alternate Operations Base (NAOB) coming up in their area, undertook a 70-km padayatra to the city and staged a dharna in front of the Collectorate on Wednesday. Collector Lav Agarwal, after a few hours of talks with their representatives and leaders of political parties, assured the villagers that four of their main demands would be accepted.

Mr. Agarwal addressed the dharna participants and announced that the relief package would be given to the list of displaced prepared by the government in the past and if there were any additions, the gram sabhas must accept them; the government and the Indian Navy would provide training to the youth aged above 18 years and engaging them as contract workers or permanent employees would depend on their skills; the women and widows would be included in the package; and a school would be established and a jetty for fishing boats would be provided at a place acceptable to the Naval authorities,

Mr. Agarwal said and wanted the fishermen to cooperate with the authorities in this regard. He also announced that Rs. 21.5 crore, including Rs. 14 crore received from the Navy and Rs. 7.5 crore from the government, would be disbursed to the DPs within 10 days.

Biggest demo

This was the biggest demonstration held in front of the Collectorate in the recent past and the NAOB displaced, who had organised an agitation for more than 70 days in the past and were on a fresh agitation for the last 26 days in front of the construction site, decided to march to the city as their plea for implementing the agreement the government has reached with them more than two years ago was not implemented and they were forced to see the work going on at the NAOB.

CPI, CPI (M), Telugu Desam, BJP, and YSR Congress parties supported their agitation. No party was allowed to display its flags.

The large number of agitators gathering in front of the Collectorate was certainly a cause for anxiety to the police and the district administration but the villagers maintained total discipline and were peaceful though they were firm with their stand that they would not leave till they received a positive answer from the administration.

A large number of policemen were deployed at the Collectorate.

Even the Collector appreciated the villagers for walking to the city and conducting their agitation in a peaceful manner.