Residents of R.K.R. Gudem in West Godavari incur heavy debts for treatment due to lack of proper facilities
Viral fevers have pushed the family of Arja Balaiah, a farm worker from this village under T. Narsapur mandal of West Godavari district, into debts.
Balaiah spent Rs. 50,000 for his own treatment in a corporate hospital in Vijayawada. In addition, he had to incur an expenditure Rs. 12,000 for his son Ravi Teja, Rs. 6,000 for daughter Sucharita and Rs. 5,000 for his wife for the treatment of viral fevers.
Balaiah borrowed Rs. 40,000 from moneylenders and the rest from relatives. He took Rs. 20,000 from two financiers for which he will have to pay Rs. 25,000, including Rs. 5,000 towards interest in 25 weekly instalments. “The interest comes to around 20 to 25 per cent,” says Nagendrababu, son of Balaiah, an engineering graduate. “We had no time to think about the rate of interest at that time. Our only concern was saving our lives,” says Durgamma, wife of Balaiah.
According to Bejjam Kiran, T. Narsapur division secretary of the CPI (M), the incidence of viral fevers has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. The moneylenders from Aswaraopet in the neighbouring Khammam district, Jangareddygudem and Chintalapudi stepped into the shoes of micro-finance institutions (MFIs) and reached upland villages with an army of employees for advancing loans and recoveries on a weekly basis
The death of Samudrala Veeraswamy, a practising lawyer in Chintalapudi deprived his wife and eight-year-old son Sahil of a breadwinner. He died after undergoing treatment for 10 days in different private hospitals at Jangareddygudem, Rajahumundry and Kakinda. His friends and the members of the Chintalapudi Bar Association pooled Rs. 60,000 to meet the treatment cost and made a futile attempt to save his life. Similarly, Mandapati Venkateswara Rao, another resident also succumbed to the viral fever.
Death literally stalks the SC habitation with viral fevers claiming four lives in a gap of two weeks and two-thirds of its total population of 600 falling sick. With a majority of inhabitants migrating to safer places, the village looks deserted.
The ‘sick’ village, tucked away on the border of Khammam district, caught public attention when irate residents, protesting alleged official apathy, blocked the T. Narsapur-Jangareddygudem road. District Medical and Health Officer Sakuntala visited the village and set up a make-shift hospital. The CPI (M) leader urged the administration to pay ex gratia to members of the bereaved families.