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Thursday, April 4, 2013

the incredible water journey ~ Tenali Markapur Passenger.............

There are so many villages and small towns in India ~ Donakonda is one such town in Prakasam District of Andhra Pradesh with a population of around 23000 [2001 census]. It is in rail route and some trains do passby – one such is Tenali – Markapur Passenger – otherwise nondescript train, which otherwise would not hold any attraction……… still a post on that inspired by a news article in The Hindu.

In an age where in the metropolis one pays so heavily ~ or rather where people are prepared to buy luxurious things – pens costing a lakh and more – cars costing crore….. there are still villages where people do not have potable water and where they are strained to travel long distances or undergo arduous journeys in search of water… is that not too saddening !!!!!

The Tenali-Markapur Passenger runs 170 km connecting Guntur and Prakasam districts passing through – Angalakuduru, Vejandla, Guntur, Nallapadu, Nudurupadu, Satulur, Narasaraopet, Munmuka, Vinukonda, Gundlakamma, Potlapadu, Donakonda, Gajjelakonda…. ~honestly, even those who travel regularly in Andhrapradesh may not be aware of all these station – save Guntur, Narasaraopeta.

Sure people know - Tanguturi Prakasam Pantulu, the freedom fighter and the first Chief Minister of Andhra, popularly known as ‘Andhra Kesari’.   What many may not know is that in 1946, after the Congress' victory in elections in Madras Presidency Prakasam became the Chief minister; however, the government lasted for only 11 months.  The district with its headquarters at Ongole, is named after him and known as Prakasam District.

Now read this article in The Hindu dt 3.4.13 titled ‘The incredible ‘journey’ for water’….. it is the sad story of people of Donakonda  having to travel by train to neighbouring Gajalakonda to fetch potable water.

The airstrip constructed by the British to fuel fighter planes during World War II, reminds one about the importance this mandal headquarters town enjoyed in the past. Now the people of this fluoride-affected area travel by train to fetch a few vessels of water as they are confronted with a severe water shortage with the Netherlands-aided summer storage tank drying up. Each family spares a person for a day to travel by the Tenali-Markapur passenger at 9 a.m. to fetch water from Gajalakonda, 17 km from here, as their dear ones are affected by arthritis, kidney ailments and other health hazards due to drinking water with high content of fluoride, says social activist Sk. Nawab.

Only strong men can undertake the risky job of filling up a few pots of water at Gajalakonda and quickly board the train which returns from Markapur after 45 minutes, as it stops for only a couple of minutes at both stations, says 42-year-old Mekala Venkata Subbaiah, while boarding the train from Tenali. Missing the train means a long wait of three hours to catch the next one to return to Donakonda. “If the engine driver and the guard on duty are kind enough, we get a few more minutes for boarding the train,” adds 28-year-old Venkateswarulu before alighting from the train here where his mother with nagging knee pain is waiting for his return.

The summer storage tank was not filled fully during the release of water from Nagarjunasagar last year, complains former sarpanch Maqbul Ahamad. People want the authorities to press into service at least four electric motors to fill the tanks now to tide over the water crisis till the onset of the Southwest monsoon. Each of them is allowed to take a few pots from Gajalakonda now. The locals might raise objection when the summer peaks, they fear. The Rs. 48-lakh pilot drinking water project is not being used due to the rusted pipelines.

The five wells dug here during British time have dried up due to indiscriminate sinking of borewells. “We did not face any water shortage till the loco-shed for steam engines was functioning before diesel and electric engines replaced them'', adds Mr. Nawab, also vice-president of the Prakasam district Consumers Council.  

Sad to read about the plight of the villagers for small quantity of potable water.  ~ and in cities we complain about everything.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar.
4th April 2013.


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