Capital demand: Amravati farmers march despite heavy rains

Amaravati: Undaunted by heavy rains caused by the cyclonic conditions in the Bay of Bengal, protesting farmers and women of the Amaravati region continued their ‘Maha Padayatra’ for the 11th day on Thursday.

Bearing umbrellas and raincoats, the protesters set off amidst heavy rain from Nagulappapadu in Prakasam district. However, farmers alleged that police have barricaded their path and are not allowing sympathisers to meet them.

Earlier, the protesters lodged under flimsy, temporary shelters, had to suffer from rain fury through the night. But they remained firm in their plans to continue the protest march.

Billed as ‘court to temple march’, the 45-day walkathon from Amaravati to Tirupati aims to force the state government to revert to the single capital city formula under which Amaravati remains Andhra Pradesh’s sole capital. Farmers and other residents of Amaravati villages have been demanding that Amaravati be retained as the only State capital.

The present state government is headed by Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has opted for a 3-capital city model under which the legislature is located in Amaravati while executive and judicial arms are headquartered in Visakhapatnam, and Kurnool respectively.

The opposition parties are extending support to the ‘Maha Padyatra’. YSRCP has described the foot march as a ploy by TDP president and leader of opposition N. Chandrababu Naidu.

With ‘Maha Padyatra’ the agitation by Amaravati farmers entered a new phase. They have been continuing their campaign for more than 650 days to protest against the State government’s plans for the trifurcation of the State Capital.

Amaravati Parirakshana Samithi and Amaravati Joint Action Committee (JAC) are organising the foot march. The participants walk 10-15 km every day over 45 days to reach Sri Venkateswara temple at Tirumala. Passing through the districts of Gunturu, Prakasam, Nellore, and Chittoor, the protest march will cover 70 major villages before culminating on December 15, at the temple city of Tirupati.