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Salt: sweetest thing of all
The lives of 30,000 villagers is on stake in Andhra Pradesh
Even the limited livelihood of 11 villages of Prakasam district in Andhra Pradesh is under threat. The 30,000 villagers have been using this land as an aquifer for ground-water recharge and as a pasture for some 22,000 heads of their cattle. Ever since the land was leased out by Andhra Pradesh Government to Snow White Salts, a company which processes salt for commercial use, the villagers have been agitating against the move, as this salt factory will deprive the villages of drinking water and all forms of livelihood, including salt-processing. As per official data, some 90% people in these villages are in one way or another, involved in salt-processing activities. Moreover, since the aquifer for water lies below their lands, salt production will also contaminate groundwater.
After the lease was cancelled in 2003 (after four years) Snow White Salts, challenged this decision in court, and as a result, in May 2007, the court cleared the lease, in-spite of decision against the factory by the regional and state pollution boards. The villagers displayed their resentment by 22 km padyatra led by Communist Party of India’s state secretary. The only demand of these protesters is re-allotment of 565.55 acres of fertile land. Even after the lease is being restored - till 2019, the protesters are still having hope. These people are ready to fight for their rights and are still waiting for the government to turn the table in their favour. This is indeed a paradox, wherein the representatives of people are working against people’s will.
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