Rayalaseema’s very existence, submerged in the new name Seemandhra, has become questionable in the context of bifurcation. Its history, great culture and contribution to fine arts, architecture and Telugu literature have been quietly thrown behind so-called Seemandhra.
Post-bifurcation Rayalaseema goes back to the position where it was in 1953. Then, Andhra State was formed with the assurances given to the people of Rayalaseema in Sri Bagh Pact. According to that, Rayalaseema was entitled to get capital city as well as primary importance in utilising the waters of the Krishna, the Tungabhadra and the Penna. Now the people of Rayalaseema demand the fulfillment of Sri Bagh Pact -- capital city in the region and river water redistribution keeping the minimum needs of all regions in mind. It is unjust, while people of one region enjoy three crops and perennial water supply, while the people of other regions are left high and dry. That is why, the people of Rayalaseema demand provision of just and rightful share of water before the bifurcation. This is possible if the Central government takes interest in completing Polavaram, Dummagudem-Nagarjuna Sagar Tail pond 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 Prakasam districts.
Without mentioning the plight of Anantapur people the story of Rayalaseema will not be complete. The ministers and MPs, hailing from that district, who are now crying hoarse on the bifurcation remained silent and mute spectators when the district was gradually turning into a desert. The proposal for a parallel canal to HLC has been kept pending for the last one decade. None of these integrationists had time to look into it.
That the interests of Rayalaseema have been sidelined in every field is evident, when the Central government sanctioned Rs 220 crore for modernisation of Gannavaram airport, IT hub worth lakhs of crores to Vizag, and the promise of Polavaram as National project to soothe the feelings of the Coastal politicians. But none to Rayalaseema, the orphans in the integrated State. Rayalaseema’s representatives are so meek and loyal to the high command that they did not open their mouth. Now it is these same people, including the chief minister, who day-in and day-out instigate people saying that Rayalaseema would become a desert if the State is bifurcated. Rayalaseema people demand an IT hub at Lepakshi, Anantapur district, where more than 8,000 acres were already allotted.
Rayalaseema is rich in minerals - Asbestos, Barytes, China clay, Calcite, Dolomite, Diamonds, Green Quartz, Iron ore, Lime stone, Silica sand, and what not. Even the rarest metal Purallin, 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. Thus a steel factory and other industries in public sector either in Kadapa or Anantapur are demanded.
The Golden Quadrilateral meant to connect the four metropolises was originally planned via Palamaner, Bangarpet and Chittoor in Rayalaseema, but it was later diverted through Karnataka. And less we talk of the railways, the better.
Of course, there are some pessimists who argue that nothing can be done and Rayalaseema has to take the present situation in its stride. But in this highly sophisticated technological world nothing is impossible as shown by examples like Israel and even Rajasthan with its Indira- Nehru canal. It is political will that is needed and more importantly, people’s awakening to force the representatives to act.
Rayalaseema JAC earnestly feel that the regions’ progress and development is linked with the formation of a separate Rayalaseema State. As long as we are part of the present Andhra Pradesh or bifurcated Andhra our demands would fall on deaf ears. With 52 MLAs from Rayalaseema region and 129 MLAs from the Coastal area, Rayalaseema people fully know that their interests would be put in cold storage as it was wont to the successive governments in the past. A separate state with four districts of Kurnool, Kadapa, Anantapur and Chittoor can be formed and it will be a state bigger than 10 states in the country. With abundant mineral and forest wealth, with funds from TTD worth Rs 24,000 crore deposits, if judiciously used along with the Central funds, setting up other major educational institutions like IIM, IIT and AIIMS Rayalaseema can become a state of acclaim. Rayalaseema can soon develop into a wealthy state. The construction of capital itself provides jobs to lakhs of people. Rayalaseema JAC is moving in that direction by raising the consciousness of the people and hopes to achieve that if not sooner, but later.
(The author is Convener, Rayalaseema JAC)