A line with a past

A view of the Kovvada railway station on the Kakinada-Kotipalli section.

A view of the Kovvada railway station on the Kakinada-Kotipalli section.  

``In the good old days, an `ana' or `beda', meaning a few paise, was enough to hitch a ride on an inspection trolley for a few 100 metres. It was a bribe no doubt, but just a pittance to feel the wind caressing your face and blowing back your hair," says 83-year-old Ramamurthy.

This man lives along the Kakinada-Kotipalli railway line in Kovvada in East Godavari district and has actually travelled on that stretch on a steam engine that chugged through Konaseema, the picturesque hinterland. His family did face the threat of dislocation, as their house was next to the railway line. Kovvada is the first of 10 stations on the 44.90-long Kakinada-Kotipalli line that was laid in 1928 and dismantled in 1940 by the British Government. Incidentally, the station building has been re-erected at the same place with the same track alignment, according to the Divisional Railway Manager, J.N. Jagannath.

Many times in the past few decades, Ramamurthy felt sorry that the railway line was abandoned. Now, he is absolutely thrilled. ``It is good to see so much of mechanisation. In those days, people had to walk wherever they wanted to go. Now, it's easy," he says.

This farmer's family, consisting of his wife, Ammani, six sons and a daughter, used to have a fairly big spread of their own. But now, he takes care of the six acres of mango orchard.

Even as Ramamurthy walks down the memory lane, a bunch of students from the nearby Zilla Parishad High School dart across the tracks. They were all in bright, white uniforms (it must be a day for sport and games!) and nimbly stepped over the rails, jay as birds. Ashalatha and Deepthi of Class Eight do not know where their teacher is taking them, but as long as it is away from school, it is fine.

By Suresh Krishnamoorthy in Kovvada

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