A tale of two suicides: The families that Telangana's Mallanasagar project is destroying

Both the families have not seen a single rupee of compensation money that was promised to them.
A tale of two suicides: The families that Telangana's Mallanasagar project is destroying
A tale of two suicides: The families that Telangana's Mallanasagar project is destroying
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The residents of Pallepahad in Telangana's Medak district bear a somber look as everyone gathers around a small house in one corner of the village.

The house belonged to 65-year-old Bachali Narsaiah, a farmer who hanged himself on July 20, fearing that he will lose his land to the controversial Mallanasagar project undertaken by the state government.

The death is still fresh in the mind of his daughter Yellamma. "I had gone to my in-laws’ place and he was living with my mother in this house. He didn't say anything to anybody. Everyone was talking on the street in the afternoon when he slipped away and went back home, and tied a rope around his neck," she says.

Locals then rushed him to the government hospital in Gajwel, and then he was taken to the Gandhi hospital in Hyderabad, where he succumbed to his injuries.

(Narisaiah's house. Image: Harsha Sai)

In the first week of July, the Mandal Revenue Officer (MRO) told the residents that Pallepahad would also be part of the submergence zone of the Mallannasagar reservoir.

The Mallannasagar reservoir is proposed to be constructed in Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao's home district of Medak and aims to divert water to drought-hit regions of the state. However, around 10 villages would be submerged in the process.

The government also assured people that a compensation of Rs 6 lakh for every acre of farm land and a 2 BHK house near Gajwel, but not everyone is convinced.

A week after Narsaiah's death, Yellamma fights to hold back tears, "We didn't expect that from him. He had spoken about his fears but we never sensed that it would lead him to kill himself".

"He was one of the few in the village who was literate. He would always read a lot. We didn't know what was going through his head. We would've done something," another villager says.

Following Narsaiah's death in Hyderabad, local TV channels and politicians swarmed the family in Gandhi hospital, promising them "justice" and compensation.

"It was all for the TV. Not a single rupee has reached us, from the government or from any political party. Who will help us? They are saying so many things in front of the camera. Not one person is ready to give us anything in writing," Yellamma says.

An old lady steps out of the house and she breaks down into tears and mumbles incoherently at the sight of visitors. It is Narsaiah's wife Bhujjava.

(Yellamma and Bhujavva. Image: Harsha Sai)

"She has been like this ever since my father died," says Yellamma.

Narsaiah's story is not the only one. Around 5 kms away in the village of Erravalli, another family is in a worse state.

It has been close to two months since Nayini Karunakar, another farmer immolated himself at night after he was told during a village meeting that he might lose his agricultural land to the same project.

The sight at Karunakar's house is even more heart-wrenching, as his mother breaks down and talks about her son.

Karunakar owned two acres of land in the submergence zone of Erravalli, which also happens to be one of the villages that the Telangana chief minister adopted.

(Karunakar's house. Image: Harsha Sai)

Karunakar's father maintains a resolute stance and says that he is taking care of his son's family till his younger son finishes his graduation, and can take responsibility of the entire family.

The deceased also left behind two daughters, 7-year-old Teja and 4-year-old Kavya .

For the past three years, Karunakar’s family has been paying interest on a loan of Rs 2 lakh, besides attempting to repay a bank loan of around Rs 60,000.

Karunakar's wife has now taken up the job of a 'coolie', to support her daughters and send them to school.

(Karunakar's family. Image: Harsha Sai)

The family also says that they have not seen any money from the government.

"The pressure from the state is still increasing and after all this, we still have to give away our land and move to a new place and look for a new job. I have been a farmer all my life. I don't have any other skills," Karunakar's dejected father adds.

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