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Police turn Andhra villages into fortress

Look to foil agitation against aqua food park

Gulf News

Hyderabad: Declaring war against the proposed Godavari Aqua Food park, people in the coastal areas of West Godavari district in Andhra Pradesh today staged demonstrations in many places.

The call for protest came from the Struggle Committee and Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPI (M)), and forced authorities to enforce prohibitory orders in 30 villages in Mogalturu, Narsapuram and Bhimavaram mandals on Wednesday. Tundurru village was at the centre of action as police foiled the demonstration and took a large number of protesters into custody.

The protesters were raising slogans against the planned private Aqua Food Park. Those arrested include former MLA M Prasad Raju and the CPIM district secretary Balram.

As women had gathered in large numbers to participate in the protest, the administration called women officers to take them into custody. There were scuffles between the police and picketers.

With the deployment of 1,300 policemen, the area turned into fortress; barricades were erected on all the roads to prevent the protesters from converging to one place.

Meanwhile, the area’s residents were afraid to venture out of their homes.

The ire of the protesters was targeted at the Chief Minister, N Chandrababu Naidu, as the police alleged that the government was siding with the management of the proposed food park.

The park, being developed by Ananda Group, has triggered a major controversy as local farmers and fishermen are apprehensive about its environmental fall out.

The Union Ministry for food processing has already given its nod to the project, but the area’s residents say it would pollute the Gontheru canal, a source of irrigation and fishing for the people.

The area has already suffered devastating pollution because of mushrooming of fish and shrimp tanks over the last two decades.

Ananda group has unsuccessfully tried to allay the fears of people. “There is no basis to the fears of pollution as there will not be any discharge from the food park and water will be recycled”, said Ananda Verma, executive director of the Aqua Food Park. The project officials said that the project was being developed at a cost of Rs1.25 billion (Dh68 million) and they have already spent Rs250 million on it.

The protests has won support from YSR Congress, CPIM and the Jana Sena party of Pawan Kalyan, who also hails from this region.

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