Fears of horticulture hub turning into gambling club

The lease amount that farmers here get for their palm oil crop is ₹1.5 lakh an acre, the best income in entire Telangana for an acre

DAMMAPET (BHADRADRI): There are fears among social activists of Dammapet and Aswaraopet in Bhadradri-Kothagudem district that their mandals are turning from being a horticulture hub to a gambling den.

About 70 percent of area in the two mandals of Dammapet and Aswaraopet comprises plantations of palm, coconut, cashew and coco. Farmers have worked hard for developing these plantations, so much so that the area is showcased by Telangana government as a horticulture hub.

The lease amount that farmers here get for their palm oil crop is ₹ 1.5 lakh an acre, the best income in entire Telangana for an acre. Most farmers are innovative in identifying the demand that a particular horticulture crop has and move to it. With their hard work, they reap good harvests.

With the money came about 150 farm houses in various villages of Dammapet and Aswaraopet mandals, each farmhouse spread over 20 acres. Every farmhouse is accessible by good roads. Even an Audi car can go to the remotest farmhouse located near the reserve forest.

Unfortunately, 30 of these farmhouses are now more famous as dens of gambling and cockfights. People arrive here for gambling and betting on cockfights from Krishna, Guntur and East and West Godavari districts of Andhra Pradesh.

Those who organise such gambling are earning from ₹ 3 lakh to ₹ 10 lakh every month, with even casino type gambling facilities being provided. Date and time of gambling, along with location, are shared between close knit groups of people. There are fully furnished rooms with all modern facilities. On occasions punters lose or earn between ₹ 10–30 lakh in one day. With big money involved, they also have protection from police.

Former minister Tummala Nageswara Rao said, “As a minister, I developed the area as a good horticulture hub. As part of it, I laid roads even to remote villages in Aswaraopet constituency. It is unfortunate that these roads are helping promote gambling now. Top police officials should intervene and check these activities immediately.”

Kasani Venkateswara Rao, a farmer raising oil palm over 30 acres in Dammapet mandal said, “We do not allow gambling in the area. Police should take stern action against those who are organising gambling. The area is known as a horticulture hub. It should not turn into a gambling club.”

The fear of locals is that their youth may get attracted to these vices in future. G. Rambabu, a spiritual thinker of Dammapet, said the area, with its greenery and peace, gives positive energy to people. Such an atmosphere should not be destroyed with gambling and cockfights. State government should intervene immediately and stop these vices, a social activist G. Prabhakar of Aswaraopet underlined.

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