'Farmer suicides', has become a wonted term in the agrarian parts of Andhra Pradesh. As P.Sainath puts it, "when it comes to farmers' problem, it doesn't rain, but it pours." While a sizable part of the state are undergoing tormenting water scarcity, Miriyala, a village near Guntur is facing a different problem.
Miriyala, a village which is completely detached from the nearby places, is waiting for a small road that will connect it with the nearby commercial market, Gurizala. In spite of their innumerable requests to the Zila Parishad, their prayers remain unanswered.
Miriyala is a 'self-contained' village in all aspects except for the health facilities and daily needs. It has a primary school which has five classes, with four teachers and a principal. Farmers form the major chunk of population. But with a population of 3500, the village has no hospital or public health centre (PHC).
Speaking on the issue, the Mandal Revenue Officer (MRO) said, "The next bigger village here is Gurizala which is at a distance of just three kilometers, has two PHCs. Since it is nearer, we didn't find a need to set up another PHC." Though geographically, the distance is three kilometers, in reality the villagers of Miriyala have to travel 12 kilometers as there is no road connecting the two villages. "We have to pass through two other Thandas to reach Gurizala. It takes us half an hour to reach there," said Rangarao, one of the residents of Meriyala.
The other route which reduces the distance to three kilometers can only be trekked as there is a small stream to be crossed. The villagers have been requesting for a bridge over the stream since 1991, but the government had paid no heed till now. "We went several times to the Taluk office, they say the money has been sanctioned for the construction of the bridge but the situation remains the same for us," said Venkat Reddy, the sarpanch (head) of that village.
Meanwhile, in 2001, the government has sanctioned Rs 2 lakh for building a high school in the village. The building was built with two rooms on the outskirts of Miriyala. The villagers wanted rooms for all the seven classes and a compound wall. So the huge amount was wasted on a building which is now deserted and the higher secondary students are sheltered in the thatched roofs outside the primary classes. The government is still 'planning meticulously' to build another brand-new school building with sufficient rooms. But the need of the hour, the bridge which can save a few hundreds lives is still not on the priority list of the government.