Communities Engaged In Traditional Occupations At The Receiving End In TDP Rule

YSR Congress party president YS Jagan Mohan Reddy     - Sakshi Post

Garikivalasa, Vizianagaram district: Today, my Padayatra threw up a host of problems related to handicrafts and traditional cottage industries. Be it the handloom weavers or potters, their plight is miserable under Chandrababu’s insensitive rule. Handicrafts are fast becoming extinct and those dependent on traditional occupation are fast moving to other professions, impacting thousands of families. This is what I could clearly gather from my today’s interaction with a number of people engaged in handicrafts across the spectrum and traditional family occupations. Handloom weavers are finding it a challenge to make both ends meet with no support price for their products. The story of the potter community is no different. On top of everything else, TDP leaders across the state have been digging up lake beds and river banks making it even more difficult for potters to eke out their livelihood. The government does not give loans to buy sheep, nor is there any kind of assurance to help them. Vaccination and medicines are not being provided and under such circumstances what can a member of the poor Yadava community do?

Members of the Relli community whose women met me today make a living out of selling vegetables and fruits, they told me.

To invest in their purchases, they are forced to borrow money at interest from private lenders. The meagre amount they earn is spent on paying the interest amount and under such trying circumstances, how can they survive? What will happen to poor fishermen whose livelihood depends on lakes and rivers when ruling party leaders indulge in indiscriminate sand mining along lakes and rivers?

Members of the Nayee Brahmin community complained about the increase in power tariff which made survival a serious challenge for them. For decades they had been serving at temples. How is asking for minimum wages and fulfillment of promises made in the manifesto, a crime? Because they dared to ask, the chief minister threatened to "clip their tails" and warned them that he would not allow them anywhere near temples. Whose doorstep should they knock at now?

Toddy workers lamented that the mushrooming of belt shops is a serious threat to their survival. One such poor toddy worker, Muntha Sankar, had an accidental fall and broke both his legs. To his misfortune, no help was forthcoming from the TDP government. If there is no government support for such people, what is the much-touted insurance, Chandranna Beema for? The government is collecting thousands of rupees through societies meant for the welfare of such workers, but is totally insensitive when it comes to their condition, say workers. These deprived sections are already feeling the effect of watering down of Arogyasri and fee reimbursement scheme. As a result, they are reeling under debts.

Mango farming has been thrown into a state of turmoil and consequently, agriculturists have been put to indescribable suffering. Without a proper sale price in the market, these mango farmers who are not finding even getting the fruits plucked profitable, are leaving them on the trees to wither. The government which had promised a support price of Rs. 2.50 per kilo of mangoes has gone back on its promise, said farmers, expressing their anguish. They narrated the story of a lady farmer from Gurugubilli, who had won an award as the best farmer for her outstanding practices in natural and organic farming over 24 acres. However, with no support price for her produce, she was forced to sell all her 24 acres. While this is the reality on the ground level, the chief minister makes false claims in international forums that natural and organic farming is yielding a return of Rs. 13 to a rupee! Local farmers said that the chief minister is preaching such blatant falsehoods only to divert the attention of all from the reality of the situation—the crisis which agriculture finds itself in today in Andhra Pradesh.

I have a question for the chief minister—there are more than ten promises to craftsmen and communities engaged in traditional occupation, on pages 20-21 in your election manifesto. Have you fulfilled at least one of them? Is it just on your part to threaten members from the weakest sections of society who remind you of your election assurances?

Also Read:Chandrababu’s Industrial Policy Lacks Sincerity

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