A 100-km ‘Siddheswaram Praja Padayatra’ being undertaken by the Rayalaseema Saaguneeti Sadhana Samithi entered its second day today.
Hundreds of people joined the padayatra in Kurnool, lending their voice to the Samithi’s demand of a rightful share of the Krishna’s waters to the parched Rayalaseema region. The march, which began in Nandyal on Tuesday, will end on May 31 at Sangameswaram with a public meeting.
The Samithi found the support of several organisations from all four Rayalaseema districts as well as Nellore to put pressure on the new government and to highlight the need for constructing a low head dam at Siddheswaram, 86 km upstream of Srisailam, so that 50 tmcft of water can be supplied to farmers in the five districts.
Samithi president Bojja Dasaratharami Reddy told The Hindu after the 24-km first day’s walk from Nandyal to Chinna Devalapuram in the district that thousands of people joined the yatra en route. Crowds swelled at every village and women gave harathi to the padayatris, applied tilak (vermilion) wishing them success in their fight for water. People voluntarily arranged for buttermilk and food for the farmers en route and cheered them on while they walked in the hot sun with temperatures reaching 44°C in the region.
“A public meeting will be organised on May 31 at Sangameswaram, about 1 km downstream of Siddheswaram, the proposed site for the construction of the low head dam, where the Samithi had conducted a foundation stone laying ceremony (Praja Sankalpa Sanku Sthapana) on May 31, 2016, and this yatra marks the completion of three years of the movement,” Mr. Dasaratharami Reddy explained.
“During these three years, the Samithi had met government officials several times, appealed to former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu to look into this project and begin the work, but to no avail. Since Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy is slated to take oath as Chief Minister now, we will appeal to him to prioritise this project,” Mr. Dasaratharami Reddy added.
After Pattiseema was constructed, the rightful share of Krishna waters has not been given to Rayalaseema and no efforts were made to maintain the water level at 854 feet in Srisailam. Through G.O. No. 69, it has been reduced to 534 feet, which does not allow Rayalaseema to draw water by any means.
“In these circumstances, completion of the Dummugudem Nagarjunasagar Tailpond Project for which ₹550 crore had already been spent, was not completed, though it was started during Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s regime. The Samithi has demanded to make Amaravathi a Free Zone in appointments for everyone from Rayalaseema also to get jobs there,” he said.