Kurnool: “All my stocks are buried under this mound of mud. It includes gold ornaments, silver, and other materials that had been pawned. My life is lost.” said a 50-year-old whose three-storied shop-cum-house was razed. This is the story of one of the victims of administrative excesses in the state of AP. The tales of others are yet more poignant.
Nandyal bears the look of town devastated by war or disaster. The debris on the arterial roads and the mounds of mud and building material that are strewn around seem to suggest that an earthquake must have hit the town. Hawkers, the owners of small shops, and business establishments selling clothes, gold, groceries, pesticides, seeds, and farm equipment are the worst hit.
Ten DSPs, 23 circle inspectors, 86 SIs, 254 ASIs, 654 constables, 6 platoons of AR personnel, 3 platoons of APSP, 6 special party teams and 300 home guards were on duty on Saturday and Sunday while the Chief Minister toured the poll-bound constituency. The damage to property worth hundreds of crores was to facilitate the smooth flow of automobiles. Accor-ding to Bojja Dasarath Reddy, a Nandyal-based activist, what was called a road widening exercise by the civic authorities, landed a blow to the livelihoods of thousands of small traders. 800 shops and 100 houses were razed in the exercise.
A group of shop owners who lost their properties said that their businesses had come to an end in the name of beautification. “What is the use of beauty? We want a livelihood,” said one of the victims. He said that the police had been threatening to foist cases against them.
Desam Sulochana, the Chairperson of Nandyal Municipality, said that she was shocked at the “inhuman way in which property demolition was done”. Admitting that there had been a municipal resolution to facilitate road widening, she said that it had conveniently been implemented without giving any notice to those affected. Neither was any compensation offered before carrying out the demolition. “It was a jungle raj with administrative over-enthusiasm,” she said.
Byreddy Rajasekhar Reddy, the president of the Rayalaseema Parir-akshana Samithi, said that though Tourism Minister Bhuma Akhi-la Priya had called it her father Bhuma Nagi Reddy’s unfinished agenda, the district administration had totally “goofed it up”.
Desam Sulochana said that District Collector S. Satyanarayana had tricked the entire Municipal Council and taken them for a ride. She said that the District Collector had told the Municipal Council that the affected people would be given three days’ notice to vacate the premises and shift their belongings. However, the Collector had issued demolition orders as soon as the meet had ended. She asked why the bulldozers and earth movers had already been stationed if the Collector had intended to give people three days’ notice.
Ansar Basha, a shop owner who lost property, said that the administration of Nandyal had demonstrated how urban encroachments could be handled. With minimum resistance from the opposition party, the government carried out the demolition with clinical precision. 160 bulldozers, 150 poclains, 200 police men and all the municipal administrators of Kurnool district had camped at Nandyal to help widen roads by demolishing buildings. Constructions in and around Gandhi Chowk, Old Town, Kalpan Centre, Srinivasa Centre, the area near State Bank of India, Bala Lodge area, the Nagalingeshwara Swamy Temple, Best Bakery area, Ramnath Theatre area, Khaleel Theatre, Raj Theatre complex, Padmavathinagar Arch, both sides of the Tekke area, Taluk Office area, and Srirama Theatre area were demolished....