The creation of the new State of Telangana in June 2014 has created considerable friction in the political scenario of the Telegu hinterland. In the quest to build a brand new capital city, the ruling Telugu Desam Party led by N Chandrababu Naidu has delivered the first definitive step and officially declared the name of the capital city as Amaravathi.
In developing the capital city, the Andhra Pradesh government issued a notification on land pooling in 29 villages, out of which Thulluru is the main mandal. Ryots are clueless as to why the government is acquiring fertile farm land for building offices. The government plan to acquire land from the area under the land pooling system came as a jolt from the blue for many, taking the farmers by surprise. The farmers in these villages have one crop or the other in their fields throughout the year. Banana, yam, turmeric, cotton and a variety of other horticulture crops are in cultivation which keep the ryots busy, apart from reaping good profits. The Jareeb farmers would get 1000 sq. yards of residential plot and 450 sq. yards of commercial plot. Every landless family in the capital region were promised Rs.2500 per month by the Government from April. There’s no sign of any money, till date.
Me: What’s your name and how old are you?
Ironer: I am Narasimharao and I am 66 years old. I am a native of Guntur and it has been thirty-six years since we came to this village.
Me: Why did you move to this village?
Ironer: I used to work in a bar shop in Guntur. But, since they banned the shops, I lost my employment and so we came here. I have been doing this work since 36 years.
Me: What about your family?
Ironer: I have 2 children. My daughter (pointing to the opposite side of the road) works in the tea stall and my wife helps her. My son and son-in-law too earn their livelihood by ironing the clothes.
Me: What about their studies?
Ironer: Me and my son studied up to 5th standard. My daughter studied up to 3rd standard. My wife didn’t study at all. (Saying this he laughs) and continues to say “I work up to 4 here. From 4 to 10 at night, I help my daughter and wife in the tea stall. These days only hard work matters not education.” He points towards her daughter’s tea stall and started to say, “Come, let’s go there. I will give you some tea and we can talk there.
Ironer: There is no use of this new capital. Many of them have lost their livelihood. The people below poverty line are planning to migrate to other villages nearby for employment. One of my cousins, who used to work in fields before is migrating to another village nearby to work. The government had promised compensation, it has promised one job per house. But there is no plan of action. And I didn’t get pension as well because of the irresponsible officers.
Ironer: I get 150-200 every day by ironing clothes and I am 66 now. When I applied for pension, there was a misprinting of my age. Recently many officers were changed after the capital was announced and this has created many new concerns.
Showing all his emotions and concern, he again proudly announces, “I don’t believe in officers. I believe in hard work”.
Another villager Nageswara Rao, who is 62 years old said,’ “We don’t see any developmental progress in the village. It has been almost 5 months. Weeds are starting to sprout up. We lost our employment and development takes years and years. Meanwhile, how do I survive and feed my family in this age? The only work I know is farming and I can’t suddenly change to any occupation at this age. I don’t believe in the future. I care only about present.”
Edited by Rounak Bose