Prof. Kodandaram’s Heinous Distortions
Professor Kodandaram is the Convener of the Joint Action Committee that is spearheading the current separatist movement. In his article titled “Telangana Marginalised” he claims that in Nizam’s Hyderabad state, the Telangana region was doing well in agriculture and industrial development. He further claims that the growth was disrupted after Telugus united in the form of Andhra Pradesh state. The most heinous statement that the Professor makes is that Nizam Telangana has become an internal colony after the formation of the state.
The undeniable truth is that we were a colony under Nizam who sucked the blood out of poor peasants. Four thousand men and women who lost their lives fighting Nizam are the reminders of that atrocious rule.
Sri Raavi Narayana Reddy, was one of the prominent leaders who led the peasants against Nizam. According to Sri Reddy, taxation in the Hyderabad state was 25% to 300% more than in other areas of the country. Peasants were required to pay a fixed tax called a levy, which they had to pay regardless of the output derived from the farmland. If there was a dispute between two people, before it could be settled, they had to pay a “dispute tax.” If a family member died, you could not cremate that person unless you paid the “ash tax.” Then, there was a war tax to finance the British in World War II. There were over 26 different kinds of taxes in enforcement.
If this oppressive taxation was not enough, there was the system of vetti which was a form of slavery. Vetti wreaked havoc on the people of Nizam Telangana. Sri Puchalapally Sundarayya, who hailed from Kosta and fought for the peasants of Nizam Telangana, wrote: “The vetti system had made the life of the Telangana people one of utter degradation and of abject serfdom. It had ruined man’s self-respect completely….”
Sadly, Professor Kodandaram does not mind demonizing his fellow Telugus, yet he shows no hesitation to sugar-coat Nizam’s rule by saying that the region was doing well in agriculture and industrial development.
Let’s move on to the statistical data that the Professor offers as evidence of “colonization” of Nizam Telangana.
Professor Kodandaram wrote: “The irrigation policies illustrate the discrimination against Telangana…AP gave high priority to irrigation… As a consequence net irrigated area increased from 27.47 lakh hectares to 55 lakh hectares between 1955-56 and 2001-02.”
The gross area under irrigation in our state in 1956 was 32 lakh hectares. As of 2005-2006, that number stands at 60 lakh hectares. In other words, we brought 28 additional lakh hectares under irrigation. Out of these 28 lakh hectares, 15 lakhs are in the Nizam Telangana area, 10 lakh hectares in the Kosta area, and 3 lakh hectares in the Rayalaseema area.
Is this what Professor Kodandaram offers as evidence of discrimination?
Professor Kodandaram further wrote: “A lion’s share, 90 per cent, in the public expenditure on irrigation was allocated for major and medium irrigation and minor irrigation received only 10 per cent of the allocation. This policy has resulted in the decline of the minor irrigation particularly tank irrigation and consequently the net area under tank irrigation declined from 10.68 lakh hectares to 5.67 lakh hectares between 1955-56 and 2001-02. In contrast the net area irrigated by canals has gone up from 12.92 lakh hectares to 15 lakh hectares between 1955-56 and 2001-2002. The deterioration of the tank irrigation system has an adverse affect on Telangana more than the other regions because tanks have been the backbone of Telangana agriculture. Further, the loss of the area under the tank irrigation has not been compensated by allocation of river waters.”
Let us look at Canal irrigation first. In 1956, when the united state came into existence, we had 12.9 lakh hectares under canal irrigation. Despite all the government investments into canal irrigation, as of 2005-06 that number stands at 15.7 lakh hectares. In other words, we brought an additional 2.8 lakh hectares of land under canal irrigation. Of these 2.8 lakh hectares, 1.5 lakh hectares are in the Nizam Telangana area, about 70 thousand hectares in Kosta, and about 60 thousand hectares in Rayalaseema.
Is this what Professor Kodandaram offers as evidence of colonization?
Professor Kodandaram’s argument about abject neglect of tanks in the Nizam Telangana region and how farmers are relying on bore-wells are valid. However, let us not forget that the losses to the Rayalaseema region in tank irrigation are much steeper than Nizam Telangana. Ironically, half our state’s chief ministers hailed from Rayalaseema.
In 1956 Nizam Telangana had 4.5 lakh hectares under tank irrigation, and as of 2005-06 that stands at 2.5 lakh hectares, a 43% drop. In Rayalaseema at the time of state formation 1.6 lakh hectares were under tank irrigation and as of 2005-06, mere 81,000 acres is under tank irrigation- a drop of over 50%. So, were the chief ministers hailing from Rayalaseema discriminating against their own region?
Professor Kodandaram wrote: “Nearly 60 per cent of the net area irrigated under canals is located in these four districts and the balance 40 per cent is shared by the other 18 districts.”
The Professor conveniently forgets to mention one important fact. These four Kosta districts had all that area under canal irrigation for nearly 100 years before our state even came into existence. That is because of the Dowleswaram and Krishna barrages built by Sir Arthur Cotton. Those Kosta districts did not get canal irrigation at the expense of Rayalaseema or Nizam Telangana. However, Professor Kodandaram wants his followers to believe that it was done at the expense of other regions.
Professor Kodandaram wrote: “…If the (Gentlemen’s) agreement were to be seriously implemented all the schemes proposed by the Hyderabad Government too would have been constructed to divert nearly 1,000 tmcs of Krishna and Godavari water to irrigate the fields in the region. Today, on record, Telangana gets a mere 277 tmc of water, which is far less in reality. If the Jalyagnam is implemented Telangana will lose its share in the river water permanently. The same situation prevails in the other sector too.”
There is no verbiage in the Gentlemen’s agreement that indicates Nizam Telangana would get 1000 TMC of water. Lastly to Jalayagnam- doesn’t irrigation minister Ponnala Lakshmaiah hail from Warangal district? Does Professor Kodandaram think that the well-educated and well-respected minister from Nizam Telangana would work against the interests of his own region? As of 2006-07, under Jalayagnam, Rs. 6,801 crore (54.84%) were expended on Nizam Telangana, Rs. 2,931 crore (24.38%) on Kosta, and Rs. 2,289 (19.02%) on Rayalaseema.
In conclusion, we in Nizam Telangana should fight for every rightful drop of Krishna and Godavari River waters that have been allocated to us by Bachawat. Our leadership should focus on improving the tank irrigation and at the very least restore it to where it was 50-100 years ago. We don’t need a separate state to achieve these goals. We need leadership that is committed to serving the people. Sadly this is not a top priority for the separatist leaders, as they are busy pitting one region against another.
Save Andhra Pradesh!