HYDERABAD: Kindling light into the lives of physically challenged persons from fluoride-affected areas, Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy announced a major hike in their pension.
Those with 40 per cent handicap and getting Rs 200 pension currently, will receive Rs 500 pension from November. Similarly, fluoride victims who are completely handicapped and cannot work will receive Rs 700 pension.
The Chief Minister’s announcement came as a big relief for Dhanam (15), a dumb girl from fluoride-affected village of Sivannagudem in Marrigudem mandal in Nalgonda.
She was dumb by birth due to the fluoride drinking water in the village and is depending on her widow mother Maramma, who is working as a labourer.
“Though the Government was paying Rs 200 pension, it was difficult to provide two square meals to my daughter.
Even my earning as a labourer do not provide enough money for us to survive throughout the month. With the pension hike, we might be able to eat two times a day,” said Maramma with joy.
Maramma along with her daughter Dhanam and about 400 physically handicapped from Nalgonda district called upon Chief Minister Rajasekhara Reddy at his camp office on Thursday. They thanked the Chief Minister for supplying safe drinking water to 416 of 690 fluoride affected villages in the district from River Krishna.
Reddy assured to supply safe drinking water to remaining villages within a year.
Further, he also assured to provide pattas for barren lands to help the victims of fluoride drinking water for cultivation.
“We were forced to drink the fluoride water for several decades. With the initiative by the State Government, our future generations are assured of leading a normal life without any physical handicap,” said K Yadagiri from Ponapalli village of Nalgonda district.
The State Government is supplying safe drinking water to the fluoride affected villages in Marrigudem, Chandur, Chintapalli, Nampalli, Munugodu, Narayanpur and Gurrampalli mandals. About 530 non-fluoride villages are also receiving safe drinking water from River Krishna. The government is spending about Rs 452 crore to provide safe drinking water to the fluoride affected villages.