(This is the story of the liberation of Amaragiri chenchu colony people from bonded labour to free fishing trade in river Krishna in Nagar kurnool district of Telangana.)
“Before we came here, we were 65 families who lived in Peddutipenta. We used to collect gum from the forest and used to sell it in ITDA stores and get food grains like jowar, maize and ragi. Due to naxalite problem, we were forcefully evacuated from Peddutipenta and were taken to Yetigadda on the banks of river Krishna. Again we were shifted to Amaragiri chenchu colony. We were employed us labourers who carry fish. We learnt to go 15 to 20 kilometers in the river and fish. We were paid miserable wages. Then some businessmen gave us small rafts and nets on credit. Innocent as we were, we believed that we became fishermen on our own and carried on fishing. The businessmen who gave us debts used to take 75% of our daily income as interest on our loans. With this we could never be liberated from our debts. We became their slaves.
Then came RDT. They made us to apply to the District Collector asking him to rescue us from our plight. We do not know what happened. On 2nd November 2016, the Central Labour Act Officer, the State Labour Act Officer, the District Collector, the Police Commissioner, a Judge and a Lawyer came to our village. They took us to the mandal office at Kollapur. They kept us in one room and our money lenders in another room. They took away all mobile phones from all of us and them. They prepared a bond canceling all our debts and made us and our money lenders to sign on that. They gave us a release certificate according to 1976 Labour Act. We still cannot believe that we are free. We own our own rafts and nets given this time by RDT. We are our own bosses fishing freely in river Krishna. The next time we go to the District Collector, we will ask for motor boats for fishing and tractors to take the fish to the market.”