Chandrababu Naidu stages day-long deeksha on sand scarcity in Andhra
The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) president went on a 12-hour hunger strike, or “deeksha”, to protest against the severe shortage of sand in Andhra Pradesh, of which he was once the chief minister.
The Opposition TDP has been alleging that scarcity of sand has hit construction activity in the state and led to distress among construction workers, among other problems. Several workers are suspected to have committed suicide due to job loss and financial problem. Naidu has been alleging that the ruling YSR Congress Party, headed by YS Jaganmohan Reddy, is responsible for the “artificial” sand crisis, affecting the livelihoods of over 3 million workers in the state’s construction sector.
Staging a hunger strike along with a few construction workers in Vijayawada, Naidu demanded that the government reintroduce the free sand policy to help revive the construction sector in the state. He also demanded Rs. 25 lakh ex-gratia payment to families of suicide victims and a compensation of Rs. 10,000 a month to every construction worker who has lost his/her livelihood over the last five months. Countering Naidu’s claim, the ruling YSR Congress Party called for agitations and accused the Opposition leader of resorting to unfair politics over sand scarcity caused due to torrential rains and heavy flow in rivers.
Naidu challenged the argument saying there was no sand shortage in the upper riparian states where heavy flow was reported in rivers. No construction activity had suffered in those states, he argued. He alleged that sand was being smuggled out of the state to Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai, and demanded that the state government beef up security at check posts to prevent this.
While admitting that there was scarcity of sand, the ruling party alleged that the trouble the public was facing in booking sand online through the government portal was also on account of the conspiracy hatched by the Opposition.