Jana Sena party president 'Power Star' Pawan Kalyan (PK) expressed solidarity with the villagers of Tundurru in West Godavari, protesting against an aqua-food processing plant proposed to be set up there. Kalyan said that he would spearhead an agitation if the Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu did not intervene in the issue. He further cautioned Naidu not to turn Tundurru into another Nandigram.
The aggressive stance adopted by the actor-turned-politican comes as a surprise, since he and his Jana Sena party are seen as electoral partners to TDP. PK is very popular among the youth, the one single reason why he was roped in by the TDP-BJP combine during the 2014 elections.
The main complaint is that the food park being set up in the Godavari delta area has already polluted a major canal that is a lifeline to lakhs of people, including farmers and fishermen. There are around 50,000 fishermen in these villages. The other complaint was that the factory was being set up without seeking any public opinion. The people of Tundurru, Jonnalagaruvu and Kamsalibethapudi, who feared the effects of pollution from the proposed food park, got an assurance from the star that he would stand by them if their livelihood was ever at stake. According to PK,the fishermen are worried that the food park would pollute the Yenamadarru canal which provides drinking water and is a lifeline to the people.
He said that such factories should be set up in non-agriculture lands and not on fertile crop-yielding ones. This issue of pollution, emerging from the Godavari Mega Aqua Food Park, had been pushed under the carpet for some time. The issue was raked up again, when CPM Politburo member Brinda Karat visited the place recently. The YSRC president Jagan Mohan Reddy is scheduled to visit on Oct. 19.
“Let the government withdraw its plans of promoting units that will disrupt the ecological balance. If it is adamant, I will take the help of other political parties, like the CPM, who are already fighting on behalf of people whose livelihoods are in jeopardy," he added.
This is at a time when Naidu's Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government is looking for ways and means to industrialise these areas and increase employment opportunities.
It remains a fact that PK and Jana Sena need to wake up and make noise every now and then to remain relevant in the political scene, especially since he has announced his decision to quit acting and take to politics from 2019. But comparing this to Nandigram in West Bengal and threatening a similar result seems to be taking the issue too far. But having made all that noise, PK was careful, insisting on mentioning that he is not against industrial progress - adding that the government must shift the food park to a different location.