Why One Rayalaseema Legislator Stayed Away from the Inauguration of Andhra’s Capital

In an open letter to Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, an MLC from the Rayalaseema region explains why he kept off the foundation ceremony of the state’s new capital Amravati

A deserted village in Ananthapur district. Credit: Rahul M.

A deserted village in drought hit Anantapur district. Credit: Rahul M.

I was invited to attend the inauguration of Andhra Pradesh’s new capital, Amaravati on October 22. I regret I will not be able to attend a ceremony that doesn’t understand the feelings of the people of Rayalaseema. As a representative of that region, I have no choice but to stay away.

There is no correlation between the promises you have made as chief minister of the new state and what is being implemented  now. Andhra Pradesh was the first state to be formed on a linguistic basis, but it was bifurcated as a result of uneven development. This was the reason for the Telangana movement. Even during the bifurcation, the main debate was around Hyderabad. You agreed that due to the concentration of all development in Hyderabad, the other regions of the state lost out and remained backward. You said that such a thing will not happen in our new state. You even announced that you will develop all the 13 districts of the state equally.

The discussion about the location of the new state’s capital was always nominal. The opinions of the Rayalaseema people were not taken into consideration. Everything was done almost unilaterally and Amaravati was declared our capital. At least afterwards, you should have announced a “master plan” for the development of Rayalaseema. Your interest in the plans for Rayalaseema was minuscule in comparison to Amaravati. There was only a routine propaganda development campaign for the region. Nothing was definitive. When the new capital was announced, you promised us that you would decentralise development in the backward areas. But in reality, this hasn’t materialised. It looks like you have forgotten the Sribagh pact, according to which if the capital was to be located in coastal Andhra, the high court must be in Rayalaseema. Could you please tell me with what enthusiasm should I come to the foundation ceremony of the capital?

District map of Andhra Pradesh. The four interior districts of Anantapur, Kadapa, Chitoor and Kurnool make up the Rayalseema region. Credit: Wikimedia

District map of Andhra Pradesh. The four interior districts of Anantapur, Kadapa, Chitoor and Kurnool make up the Rayalaseema region. Credit: Wikimedia

You had wished for the capital to be in Amaravati, and it is here now. If only you focused on the development of the backward regions of Rayalaseema, North Andhra and Palnatiseema, people here wouldn’t have been discontented. You have prioritised the construction of a world-class capital over the development of regions which for generations were suffering from famine and drought. You are preparing to pour thousands of crores of rupees into building this capital. You should have planned for development in Rayalaseema, north Andhra and Palnadu – the underdeveloped regions of our state. In Amaravati, you even brought experts from other nations for planning. A plan of execution should have been announced for Rayalaseema with a special package and an annual budget. No such thing was done.

Projects like the Handri-Neeva, Galeru, Nagari, Telugu Ganga and Tungabhadhra parallel canals have been pending for decades, and funds have been sprinkled over these like droplets of water. Rs 1300 crore was spent on the Pattiseema project, and it has been completed at lightening speed. We were told Pattiseeema was being built for Rayalaseema. We were also told that the water will remain in Srisailam due to this project. But such government orders were never issued.

The situation at Sri Padmavati women’s medical college in Tirupati is a classic case of the discrimination of the AP government against Rayalaseema. Government Order 120 was used to remove zonal reservations that were mandated for the students from Rayalaseema. Severe injustice has been committed against the students of the region. Even the courts said that it was unconstitutional, but the government didn’t step back. Just in this one year, over 90 girl students have lost their MBBS seats.

Exhausted migrants from Anantapur on the Kochi-Kadiri train. Credit: Rahul M.

Exhausted migrants from Anantapur on the Kochi-Kadiri train. Credit: Rahul M.

Inside the four districts of Rayalaseema – Anantapur, Chitoor, Kadapa and Kurnool –  the drought is severe. Even during this rainy season, the only source of water in the 4000 villages of Rayalaseema was water tankers. Across Seema, three lakh bore wells have dried. Thousands of acres of mango, mousambi, and pomegranate plantations have been destroyed due to heat. People are selling their cattle and other animals due to lack of water. In these regions, water is available only once in 10-15 days and people are forced to store it. Due to the increase of stagnant water, the mosquito population has multiplied, leading to the spread of dengue that has taken several lives. The unavailability of employment has forced the starving farmers and laborers of Seema to migrate to states like Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. They lead terrible lives there. This is a human tragedy. You seem to prioritise the construction of the capital over the prevention of a human tragedy.

In the state Reorganisation Act, the need to provide special packages for Rayalaseema and Northern Andhra is clearly spelt out. No efforts were made to clinch such a package from the Centre. You are washing your hands of your responsibility by allotting Rs 50 crore to each district. This region would not recover unless you announce and implement a package of approximately one lakh crore rupees. It doesn’t look like such a package is in the priorities of the government.

The people in Rayalaseema strongly feel that they are losing a lot after the bifurcation of the state. They are extremely discontent with recent developments. The Rayalaseema Development Forum, an organisation I am the convener of, has a similar opinion. Seema people have elected me and sent me to represent them in the legislature council . I have a responsibility to respect their sentiments. Therefore, I will not be attending the inauguration of a capital, which has not considered the sentiments of the people of Seema.

M. Geyanand is a medical doctor from Anantapur. He is the present graduate MLC for Anantapur, Cuduppah and Kurnool districts of Andhra Pradesh

Translated from the Telugu original by Rahul M.