Homeless under Pulichintala

Repeat evacuation because of residents’ attachment with villages

Everyday starting August 9, the day the crest gates of the upstream Srisailam project were lifted, the Suryapet district administration got a new duty. Evacuation.

It was Superintendent of Police R. Venkateswarlu who first issued evacuation advisory, followed it up with several visits to displaced villages along with Joint Collector and Project Officer D. Sanjeeva Reddy, and ensured shifting.

But the evacuees returned every other day, so did the police force and their typical warnings.

"Nights we sleep at the relatives’ place and when it’s morning we return. Today, we were forced to move out with all our belongings and packages," said Yeleti Narsimha Rao, evacuated from Reballe village.

On Wednesday, a new home was shown to his family, along with 19 other families, by the administration: three rooms at the Rebbale High School.

‘Evacuation drive’ has also been in full swing at other project-affected villages like Thammavaram, Mattapally, Shobanadrigudem and Kishtapuram. Officially, the evacuated families were 60, 10, 15 and 10 respectively, they now have safe shelter.

According to an official involved in the drive, ensuring the villagers’ safety was a priority as the project was filling fast, reading above 30 tmc for its total capacity of 45.77 tmc water.

"It is not about their R&R package, they are only worried about their crop and cattle," he said.

For the record, the Dr. K.L. Rao Sagar Project or the Pulichinthala Project displaced 13 villages and partially affected four villages on the left bank in Telangana. Implementing the Rehabilitation & Resettlement policy of 2005, the government compensated ₹164.07 crore for submerging lands and ₹52.23 crore for structures. Also, about 7,000 families were resettled in 16 centres across 686 acres.

However, of the 415 recognised project-affected families in Reballe village alone, only 145 could be allotted resettlement in 2006, and the remaining 270 who were resettled in 24 acres in 2011 still remain shelterless, as the land was not suitable for construction. A ₹40-lakh estimate prepared by the Panchayat Raj to develop the land then remained in the pipeline. And about 40 families returned to the village facing submergence.

Different but in the same line, stories of the displaced in other villages also qualify for the homeless category. While most got the R&R package, some missed house sites or grants, allotments stopped for forest clearance or applications were stuck with the project’s office.

But according to Mr. Sanjeeva Reddy, excepting Thammavaram village, all families in the rest of the 12 villages were covered under the R&R package and attached to a centre. The oustees have already constructed houses, he added.

"We made sure all villages are evacuated and they are being monitored by the police and tahsildars. Repeat evacuation is arising because of the residents’ sentiment with villages," he said.

For Mr. Rao, Reballe will still be his home. "We will go back after the water level recedes. Officials too did not show a permanent shelter," he said.

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