Special Correspondent

Edukondalu, who is studying MA in Hyderabad, comes to Ongole every month to look into the issues of visually challenged persons

ONGOLE: Braving the odds, a visually challenged person, Edukondalu, travels from Hyderabad to Ongole often to fight for the rights of people who are unfortunate like him. But he finds to his chagrin some officials stonewalling all his attempts.

The Government has reserved one warden post for visually challenged persons in the Tribal Welfare Department in Prakasam district in 2002. The then district Collector, Krishna Babu, however felt that a visually challenged person cannot manage a hostel with 100 boys. On his recommendation, the Government changed the category of reservation of the post to orthopaedically challenged person in 2004.

Relentless fight

Since then, Mr. Edukondalu, district secretary of Andhra Pradesh Andhula Sankshema Sangham, has been fighting with a missionary zeal to get the post back to visually challenged person. Mr. Edukondalu, who is doing M.A in political science in Hyderabad, has been coming to Ongole every month to look into the issues of visually challenged persons.

Not agreeing with the contention that visually challenged persons cannot manage hostels, he points out that they have been working successfully as hostel wardens in Guntur, Kadapa and Mahaboobnagar districts. As the post is not yet filled, he continues to fight. Impressed by his argument, the Joint Collector recommended to the Government in March last that the reservation category can be changed back to visually challenged persons. But the Government wants to get the proposal from the Principal Secretary, Tribal Welfare.

Even as officials are dilly-dallying, Mr. Edukondalu shuttles between Hyderabad and Ongole to know whether there is any progress. When contacted, tribal welfare officials say they have provided a visually challenged person a teacher job on contract basis on a monthly salary of Rs. 4,000 to compensate the loss of warden post.

But Mr. Edukondalu dismisses it saying that they have given the contract post only to silence them.

He insists that the post should be given only to visually challenged person as envisaged by the Government.