Remote Botlagudur village, near Pamur in the Prakasam district, is in the grip of severe drought for the tenth successive year, crippling all economic activity in the village and forcing people to migrate to cities and towns.
Wanting the Pula Subbaiah Veligonda project, into which successive State governments have pumped in more than ₹4,500 crore so far, to be completed with immediate Central assistance, two persons hailing from the remote village have left for Varnasi to contest as Independents against Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
“We want to draw the nation’s attention to the plight of the people of Prakasam district facing drought for the fifth year in succession by entering the poll fray against none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” the duo, Vadde Srinivasulu, a techie, and Ravikiran Sarma, a priest, told The Hindu over phone from Varanasi. They had prepared the necessary documents to file two sets of nomination papers each on April 29 with the assistance of a lawyer, Ritwik Sahu. “We have opened an account in a local branch of the SBI (State Bank of India) as required, and paid the amount towards deposit to contest the poll,” they said.
Their friends, K. Durgaprasad, P. Manohar Yadav and Ch. Mohan, have accompanied them to assist in completing the nomination filing process by engaging lawyers and roping in socially-minded persons to propose their names for the electoral battle for a larger social cause, they added.
They have floated the Veligonda Project Sadana Samiti, and are campaigning for the early completion of the Veligonda project, linking it with the Mopadu reservoir to restore prosperity to the drought-hit parts of the district.
It is not that their attempt to enter the poll fray is an easy one. Engaging a lawyer and persuading 10 local persons to propose their names has been a herculean task, and five of them backed out, providing no reasons. “’We convinced five other persons of our cause as lakhs of people suffered fluorisis-induced diseases in Prakasam district and finally they agreed [to propose the names],” they said.
The project involves drilling of twin giant tunnels to a distance of 18.8 km to draw 43.58 tmcft of Krishna water from the foreshore of the Srisailam reservoir to irrigate 4.26 lakh acres and provide drinking water to 15.20 lakh people. It has suffered time overruns and, as a result, had its cost had escalated to more than ₹6,500 crore now.