Telangana: Village Sewage Routed into Dalit Man's Farmland; 'Fait Accompli,' Say Authorities

Despite several complaints, officials say the natural gradient for the sewage is towards the field of victims and reject that there is a caste angle to the issue.

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New Delhi: In Telangana’s Jayashankar Bhupalapally district, a farmer from the Dalit community has been suffering for long as sewage from his entire village is channelled to be emptied into his agricultural field. A number of petitions requesting authorities to resolve the issue have not brought about any redressal, instead, officials say it was a “fait accompli” and nothing can be done, The Hindu has reported.

According to Gurram Ashok, son of Gurram Lingaiah who owns the land in the Edlapalli village of Malharrao mandal, the original proposal plan intended that the main line carrying waste water from 400-500 households was to be routed to a water body nearby and another line from part of the village where members of Dalits lived was to join the main outlet midway.

“It was changed citing a small shrine of a village goddess on the way, notwithstanding the fact that the drainage canal was routed along the side of the temple, and would not have touched it. They did not want our drainage to flow into the main line, that’s why diverted the canal to flow through our colony into our field,” The Hindu report quoted Ashok as saying.

Although Lingaiah had raised several complaints during the construction of the sewage channel that his once-acre land would be adversely affected, his concerns were not considered seriously.

Ashok held the village sarpanch, who is also a Dalit, but from a rival sub-caste, responsible for what he termed as “wilful discrimination aided by public representatives and officials.”

In fact, the issue doesn’t just affect Lingaiah’s farmland but also other fields abutting his land and mostly belonging to farmers from SC, Scheduled Tribes and Backward Castes. Lingaiah pointed the same to the local additional collector (local bodies), but to no avail.

On the other hand, additional collector T.S. Divakara, who conducted a field inspection, said since the natural gradient for the sewage was towards Lingaiah’s plot, it was directed there. He asserted that there was no “malicious or discriminatory intent,” but added that reorientation of the canal would cost a lot.

“From the district administration, I have promised construction of a diversion just before the sewage enters his field, but he is not willing for the same citing stench,” Divakara said, according to the Hindu report.

However, Ashok, on the other hand, said there are eight natural gradients, around eight water bodies around the village, for the sewage to flow and none of these are close to Lingaiah’s plot where sewage is being diverted to.

“Diversion has been done despite our protests. Even otherwise, how can they plan to let village sewage into private land?” asked Ashok.