High tension prevailed for several hours on Sunday after a massive crowd of over 5,000 villagers from 29 villages of Hiramandalam and Kottur mandals in Andhra's Srikakulam district staged a protest. The villagers were protesting against the Vamsadhara irrigation project. The protest also turned violent when they set fire to vehicles belonging to the Soma Construction Company.
The protesters reportedly from Pedda Sankili, Garlapadu, Tulagam, Dugupuram, Irapadu and other surrounding villages, gathered at the Vamsadhara irrigation project construction site on Sunday morning and asked the officials to stop the work till the government released their compensation. They also demanded that the state implement the new relief and rehabilitation packages for displaced people.
The angry protesters accused the government of going ahead with the construction, without clearing the compensation amount, and entered the construction office before ransacking the tents and furniture. They also set fire to four vehicles of the construction company, along with other material of a police camp present there.
The villagers have been protesting for the past few days now.
On Saturday, the district administration held a discussion with the villagers, but could not reach an agreement. Sensing that the situation could go out of hand, policemen were deployed.
Despite over 500 police personnel being present to control the crowd, the protesters outnumbered the police.
The project, started in 2006, with Rs 930 crore, to store nearly 9 TMC of water collected from the Vamsadhara river. Around 6,000 acres of agricultural land which belongs to 10,000 farmers of the 29 villages were taken by the government for this purpose.
The government promised to give a compensation of Rs 1.5 lakh for each acre, but so far, no compensation has been given, the Times of India reported. State Irrigation Minister Devineni Uma Maheswara Rao ordered the officials to complete the project by June this year.
“I have called the local field officers for a meeting to inquire about the project work. I can't comment anything on it without analysing the incident thoroughly,” Srikakulam collector P Lakshmi Narasimham told Times of India.