Gudur, Jan. 13: P. Venkateshwar Rao is a local leader from the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) residing in the village of Nellatur in the Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh. He says that over 100 families belonging to the Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribe have been deeply affected by the recent floods that razed the district in mid November.
Nellatur is primarily a labourers’ village. Over 16 families of Tamil descent migrated to Nellatur in late 90’s where they now stay in a confined village. On November 18, due to a breach in the Gudur Reservoir and the Chennur Reservoir, water overflowed into the low lying villages of Nellatur and Chennur. By midnight, the level of water had reached almost 4 fetes.
The Tamil migrants of Nellatur rushed to a nearby school to seek refuge. Among them was Premila, 29, member of a local self help group, who could just manage to lock the doors of her house and leave. “When we returned after 2 days, everything was in a mess. The television set, the bed, everything was destroyed because of the flood,” she added.
“My daughter was pregnant. Had it not been for Bhaskar Reddy, my daughter couldn’t have delivered her child. He managed to take my daughter to a hospital in Gudur in knee deep water,” said Suparna whose husband works in the nearby Balaji Rice Mills, one of the few mills which have shut operations since the floods.
Bhaskar Reddy is a former Mandal Vice President and an influential person in the village. Nellatur is a reserved constituency for female representatives, but Monddam Bujjamma is just the Sarpanch for namesake. It is Reddy who calls the shots in this village.
“The government is in process of compensating every villager in Nellatur who have suffered from the floods,” says Reddy. The villagers argue that the compensation amount of Rs. 4,000 is meager and will not help them in any way to reconstruct their houses.
The villagers are also given 25 kg’s of rice and one packet of oil as compensation, but Shanti, who had an error in her Aadhar Card hasn’t received any compensation yet. “The water level had reached chest high. The men carried us in their arms till the school,” says Shanti.
The villagers who think that Bhaskar Reddy is the Sarpanch have been requesting him to construct a bounary wall outside the village which will act as a protection against the floods in the future, but to no avail.
After the flood water had receded, there was an outbreak of diseases like Dengue, Typhoid and Malaria in Nelattur. Ramesh Babu, Asst. Engineer; Rural Water Supply and Sanitation Department said that the authorities are rapidly trying to provide clean water to the villagers so that there are no more casualties.
It now remains to be seen how the Tamil migrants cope up with life after floods, the government is trying hard to compensate them, but the villagers say no amount of compensation will bring their lives back to normal.