Meet Koneru Konappa, TRS Sirpur MLA who feeds COVID patients, attendants for free

Konappa, a third time MLA, is often seen in charitable activities rather than in politics with his trademark TRS Kanduva on his shoulders.

By Jinka Nagaraju  Published on  25 May 2021 5:58 AM GMT
Meet Koneru Konappa, TRS Sirpur MLA who feeds COVID patients, attendants for free

Sirpur: At 9.30 pm on Monday, his mobile rang. The caller, who was frantically rushing a severely ill COVID-19 patient to hospital was in bad need of food for six members. They had already covered a long distance from the village Murligudem, 70 km away from Kagaznagar headquarters.

His entire family plunged into action and rustled up a quick meal for the team. He himself carried the food to the people who were on the way to Kagaznagar. He served the food with his own hands to the patient and spoke to the doctors to ensure admission and proper treatment. But, unfortunately, the patient died the next day, said distraught Koneru Konappa, 65, TRS MLA from Sirpur.

On Tuesday, Konappa's temporary call center set up with four mobile numbers received a call from Salugudu Palle, 50 km away from Kagaznagar, requesting food for ten people who were down with COVID-19. A bike was pressed into service to carry the food, twice a day, a herculean task, indeed.

"Coronavirus is penetrating deep into the interior of Sirpur the constituency which is basically a rural constituency, where medical facilities are sparse. The COVID-19 cases, where the entire family is affected with high fever (suspected positive cases), or cases where one has to depend on help from outside, which is mostly unavailable, are soaring. This has forced us to think of supplying food to COVID-19 patients in far off villages," he said today before leaving for a village called Utsu Sarangapalli, where villagers, down with high fever, crying for help.

Konappa was visiting the village to personally observe the situation along with a doctor. Food is taken care of.

Once any family informs the call-center about their condition, a bike-borne volunteer rushes to serve the food twice a day, first at 12.00 noon and later at 7 PM. The meal, neatly packed in bags, contains rice, dal, chutney, curry or egg, and curd (and Banana for lunch). Dry fruits are also served to the patients on alternative days. "We are now supplying meals to 350 people in Kagagznagar town and in a few villages. We are fully equipped to supply to more if the demand increases," he said.

The kitchen, set up in MLA's residential premises, has been working for the past one year to serve the food for lockdown-hit laborers. It is now upgraded to take care of the second wave COVID-19 patients. His wife, son, brothers, and their wives are engaged in cooking the food and carefully packing the items as they need to travel long a distance on bikes.

Konappa, a third time MLA, is often seen in charitable activities rather than in politics with his trademark TRS Kanduva on his shoulders. Performance-wise he emerged as the topper among the MLAs in a survey conducted by none other than chief minister KCR himself in 2017.

Though Konappa's Charitable Trust is into many activities such as community marriages, running coaching centers to train the youth for job tests, skill development, etc, serving food for the needy is his core activity.

He is the first MLA Telangana to launch his own permanent midday meal scheme for 2500 students in five junior colleges in the constituency. Later, during the earlier lockdown, and post-lockdown he set up free meals counter in Kagaznagar for the laborers and poor who come to the town for petty jobs and daily labor from far-off villages. Now, the home delivery of food has replaced the earlier counter because of the ongoing lockdown.

As his huge joint family consists of twenty to twenty-five members, his residential premises transforms into a master kitchen, at the drop of a hat, no matter what the time is.

MLA's wife Ramadevi is personally involved in maintaining the quality of the food. "Cooking of food begins in the wee hours and would be ready 7 AM. Packing takes some time. Our team ensures that the food reaches every person by 12 noon. We prepare fresh meals for dinner," Puduri Anjaiah, a volunteer from Konappa's team, said.

The predominantly rural and forest geography of the constituency, a soft-spoken Konappa said, is the primary reason that forced him to think of everything in terms of serving the food.

"The students in junior colleges come from distant villages. It is difficult for their poor families to prepare a lunch box early in the morning. So, many students either skip lunch or bunk the classes in the afternoon. I saw a boy swoon at a college function. This compelled me to think of a midday meal scheme for junior colleges. We set up a kitchen in my residential premises the very next day and started sending a cooked meal to students of a junior college. Later, separate kitchens were set up in the more villages where junior colleges are located," he said adding proudly that the scheme had improved attendance.

Having seen the plight of laborers in last year's lockdown period and after a meal counter was set up in Kagaznagar, to serve free meals for the laborers and others. "Since hotels and messes were not there around, our counter helped them overcome the difficulty. Roughly we served lunch for 400 to 600 people a day," Konappa said.

"Now a new challenge has arisen. COVID-19 patients are stuck in the villages where neither food nor medicare is available when they are in isolation. Many suffer in silence as even relatives hesitate to meet them. Patients suffer trauma in isolation. I decided to reach out to them with our team. We set up a call center with four mobile numbers. The Mobile numbers (9963123456, 9440001397, 9848585446, and 9390223911) have been widely circulated through our party workers and social media to every village. A 15-member volunteer team has been constituted to carry the food to the villages and hospital wards on bikes. This constituency has many villages which are far away from the nearest medical facility. If the need arises, we would send a doctor and a vehicle to get them admitted to a hospital," Konappa said.

"This is my way of conducting politics which brings the government and party closer to the people," he added.

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