Fishermen cry foul over rehabilitation package

Special Correspondent
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Probe sought into irregularities in rehabilitation package

Fisherwomen of Prattikollalanka staging a demonstration in Eluru on Monday.-- Photo: A.V.G. Prasad
Fisherwomen of Prattikollalanka staging a demonstration in Eluru on Monday.-- Photo: A.V.G. Prasad

Women from Prattikollalanka, a fishermens’ habitation in Kolleru Lake, staged a protest at the Collectorate here on Monday, demanding an inquiry into the irregularities in implementing the rehabilitation package for victims of Operation Kolleru programme undertaken by the government in 2006.

The government had sanctioned houses, buffaloes and a slew of employment-generating works under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) for the village as part of providing alternative livelihood to persons who had lost their fishponds in Operation Kolleru.

No succour for needy

But a section of the villagers, in a petition submitted to Collector Siddharth Jain, accused then village sarpanch (now vice-sarpanch) and community elder of committing irregularities in collusion with the official agencies concerned.

As a result, the poor remained poor and succour failed to reach the needy, the petition said. The administration demolished fishponds spread over 1,000 acres falling under the plus five contour of the lake in the village. With this, a little over 1,500 persons from the village had lost their source of livelihood and the government intended to provide them an alternative livelihood with the implementation of a rehabilitation package.

According to Venkateswara Rao, a resident of the village, the government sanctioned 100 buffaloes for the village. When the administration arranged a loan of Rs 25,000 in cash for each beneficiary for the purchase of milch animals under the scheme, he alleged, the community elders misappropriated the amounts.

Similarly, funds were fraudulently drawn by creating fictitious names on the muster rolls under the MGNERGA by showing execution of works only on paper. Houses were allotted only to a section of people allegedly on the whims and fancies of the community elder while leaving the legitimate poor high and dry, the protesters alleged.



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