Rayalaseema–where Angels Fear to Tread
N Somasekhara Sarma
Even during so much
furor and turmoil about bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh (AP) not a whisper is heard about Rayalaseema. Its very existence has become questionable and new name christened SEEMANDHRA. The clubbing of Rayalaseema, the most backward area in AP, with the richest area of Coastal ANDHRA (with exception to Kalinga seema, equally backward and neglected) served the purpose of the Telanganites to blame the CMS, rightly, hailing from Rayalaseema and the greedy rich of coastal Andhra for the backwardness of Telangana. It equally helped the Coastal politicians to claim that there is no development in Seemandhra comparable to Telangana. Of course, the Coastal politicians are shrewd enough to club Hyderabad city with the rest of Telangana region whenever they reel out statistics to show Telangana is more developed than their area. Finally, the losers are the people of this region. Its history, great culture and contribution to Fine Arts , Architecture and Telugu Literature quietly thrown behind the iron curtains of so-called Seemandhra. Who cares? Even the people of this region enjoy themselves in self-abdication and self-admonition. But the pity is that even the media, both electronic and print, with the exception of one or, two, also ignores the plight of Rayalaseema and the voices, however weak that come out to bring that plight into limelight. The print and Electronic media have become the spokesmen of Coastal rich, their owners, forgetting their professional ethics and obligations. If the intellectuals of this region do not wake up and demand for the rightful share of water, jobs and other infrastructural demands, the people of Rayalaseema in future will not pardon them.
The apathy, disinterestedness and disillusion of the people and intellectuals of the region can be traced back to the influence of feudal culture since the days of the fall of Vijayanagara Empire. The history of Rayalaseema, since the decay and fall of the Vijayanagara Empire is the history of famines, untimely deaths, farmers' suicides and ruthless suppression by Pale agars, turned land and mine mafias and the present day politicians of all hues. If the late Nizam ceded Rayalaseema region to the Britishers for safe-guarding his Kingdom, the present day politicians mortgage the interests of the people of this region to the Coastal Andhra rich for pelf and power.
Rayalaseema, as many people think is not a poor region. The poverty is in the commitment of the politicians to the people's welfare. After all, Mother Nature is not partial to any region. If it has given plenty of water to one region, Kerala, it has endowed Rayalaseema with vast mineral and forest wealth. But, water, being the prime source of sustenance, for the lack of sufficient rain fall, nay, the lack of proper planning to utilize rain water and flood water led to the famines in the past. If sufficient reservoirs and link tanks had been built at proper places the thirst of the people and the parched lands would have been quenched. Politicians, hungry they are for pelf and power, instead sanctioned irrigation dams without assured water to enrich themselves. That is why, today, one finds thousands of cusecs of water flowing, without use, into the sea, every rainy season. The urgent necessity is to build as many reservoirs as possible and needed repairing tanks immediately.
Whatever may be the past, Rayalaseema is now at a crossroads. Bifurcation, being inevitable, (of course, this region is not benefited in the so-called united AP), Rayalaseema now goes back to the position where it was in 1953. Of course nothing in the lives of farmers and downtrodden changed except in the lives of the ruling class. In 1953 Andhra State was formed with the assurances given to the people of Rayalaseema in Sri Bagh Pact. According to that, capital city should be in Rayalaseema and primary importance should be given to Rayalaseema in the utilization of the waters of the Krishna, the Tungabhadra and the Penna to the Rayalasgema region. Now the state is being bifurcated the people of Rayalaseema demand the fulfilment of Sri Bag Pact at least now. The people of Rayalseema demand capital city in the region of Rayalaseema and river waters should be redistributed keeping the minimum needs of all regions in mind. It is unjust, while people of one region enjoy three crops and perennial water supply, the people of other regions are left high and dry, yes literally dry, with street fights for a pot of water near public taps or treading about 5 km to fetch water. That is why the people of Rayalaseema demand the just and rightful share of water should be allotted to this region before the bifurcation. This is possible if the Central government takes interest in completing Polavaram, Dummagudem-Nagarjuna Sagar Tail end project and Pulichinthala on war footing. The water (45 tmc + 165 tmc + 54 tmc totaling 264 tmc) thus flows from the Godavari into the Krishna may be spared to the drought prone areas of Rayalaseema, South Telangana and Prakasham District. The other possibility, that is shown by the great Human Rights Champion Dr Balagopal is that the coastal people should be generous enough to have only two crops and depend on ground water, which is aplenty or a change of crop pattern to save a 200 tmc of water for the use of Rayalaseema and South Telangana, but past experiences show that the Coastal rich are not so generous to concede that request.
Without mentioning the sad plight of Anantapur people the story and the necessities of Rayalaseema will not be complete. The ministers and MPs, hailing from that district, who are now crying hoarse on the bifurcation remained as silent and mute spectators, when the district was gradually turning into another desert. The proposal for the construction of parallel canal to HLC has been kept pending for the last one decade. None of these integrationists has time to look into it.
That the interests of Rayalaseema has been sidelined in every field is evident, when the central Government sanctioned Rs 220 crore for the modernization of the Gannavaram airport, IT hub worth lakhs of crores sanctioned to Vizag, and immediately after the announcement of the bifurcation, the promise of Polavaram as National project to soothe the feelings of the Coastal politicians. But politicians of the region were so loyal to their High Command that they did not open their lips. Now it is these same people, including the CM, who day-in and day-out instigating people saying that Rayalaseema would become a desert if the state is bifurcated, as if it were already on its way.
As already mentioned there is no mineral in the world that is not available in this region. Asbestos, Barytes China Clay, Calcite, Dolomite, Diamonds, Green Quartz, Iron Ore, Lime Stone, Silica Sand, and what not.
Even the rarest metal Purallin, which is lighter than cotton and sturdier than steel is found in Mangampet of Kadapa district. It is useful in curing Cancer, Aids, and as bullet proof material. Hence the people demand a Steel factory in Public sector undertaking either in Kadapa or in Anantapur. Government should start many other factories using the above raw materials. In regard of transportation also, this region is bypassed. The "Golden Quadrilateral" meant to connect the four metropolis, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta was originally planned via Palmaner, Bangarpet and Chittor region (all in Rayalaseema). But it was later diverted through Karnataka. And the less one talks of the Railways, the better. Netravati Express–Mumbai to Trivandrum was used to run via Guntakal and Dharmavaram, was for no reason cancelled and Navjeevan Express–Chennai to Ahamedabad was used to ply via Renigunta, Kadapa, Guntakal and Adoni (again all in Rayalaseema) was diverted through Vijayawada. Of course, there are some pessimists who argue that nothing can be done and people have to take the present situation in their own stride. But in this highly sophisticated technological world nothing is impossible as shown by example by Israel and even Rajasthan with its Indira- Nehru canal. It is political will that is needed and more importantantly, people's awakening to force the representatives to act.
All said and done—the members of Rayalaseema JAC earnestly feel that the region’s progress and development is linked with the formation of a Separate Ralayalaseema state. As long as the people of Rayalaseema are in the present AP or bifurcated Andhra the above demands would fall on deaf ears. With 52 MLAs from this region and 129 MLAs from the Coastal area, everybody fully knows people's interests would be put in cold storage as it was in the past. It's possible to form a separate state with 4 districts of Kurnool, Kadapa, Anantapur and Chittor, a state bigger than 10 states in the country. With abundant mineral and forest wealth, with funds from TTD worth 24000 crore deposits, if judiciously used along with the Central funds other major educational institutions like IIM, IIT and AIMS started, a claim as a state, one can make, Rayalaseema soon develops into a wealthy state. The construction of Capital itself provides jobs to many lakhs of people. In that direction Rayalseema JAC is moving towards that goal, raising the consciousness of the people and hopes to achieve that if not sooner, but later.
Vol. 46, No. 22, Dec 8 - 14, 2013
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