A Separate State, Yes, But On Whose Land? Madhavi Tata సెప్టెంబర్ 21, 2013Posted by M Bharath Bhushan in Congress, Mahabubnagar, politics, SEZ, Telangana, TRS.
A Separate State, Yes, But On Whose Land?
Government officials themselves admit in private that bogus ration cards are circulating in some districts
Madhavi Tata, Outlook India, September 16, 2013
The food security bill brings with it fresh headaches for Andhra Pradesh, a state with an elaborate public distribution system. Government officials themselves admit in private that bogus ration cards are circulating in some districts of the state. When Outlook visited villages in Telangana’s Mahabubnagar district, it found that many had not even heard of either the food security bill or the land acquisition one, but welcomed any extra largesse that would come their way. Represented by TRS supremo K. Chandrasekhara Rao in Parliament, backward Mahabubnagar has a high migrant population that often travels to Maharashtra to look for jobs in the summer.
Land, on the other hand, is an issue in the villages of Polepally, Mudireddipally and Rayapally. Several small farmers were displaced when an SEZ came up in the area. Proud landowners once, some of them now work as security guards, cleaners, labourers, coolies or ply autos around the SEZ. Mudiraj Kothatelugu, 18, runs one such auto in Polepally now, and says his family spent most of the money they got in repaying loans. His father now works as a farm labourer in other villages. While politicians would sometimes show up for solidarity, their displacement issues really have not been addressed, says Balaiah Goud who is now working as a guard in the SEZ. The Telangana Rashtra Samithi, he says, has let them down. “It was under the Congress government that we were displaced. What is the use of a Telangana statehood when our own land is taken away from us,” asks Kishtaram Sarojanamma, a farm coolie, indicating which way her vote will go. The land acquisition law comes too late for them.
But food remains an emotive issue for a state that currently provides 4 kg rice per person at Rs 1 to BPL families, with a ceiling of 20 kg per every family. This benefits a total population of 7.8 crore (2.3 crore white ration card holders). The Centre’s strict criteria for deciding BPL families would actually bring down the number of beneficiaries once the law is implemented (in October). “If we were to cover the rest of the population and continue to provide rice at Rs 1 a kg, the state exchequer will need to bear Rs 5,000 crore extra. We are seeking a subsidy of at least Rs 4,000 crore from the Centre,” says Sunil Sharma, state civil supplies commissioner.
It still might not be the end of people’s woes. P. Suvarna in Burgula village runs a handmill at home while her husband Yadaiah is a farm labourer. The couple has two small children. Suvarna complains that officials provide them only 8 kg of rice as against the 16 kg they are entitled to. “Our earnings are meagre and we sometimes find it difficult to pay Rs 185 for the Amma hastham basket,” complains Suvarna who would prefer a cash transfer in her name than depend on fair price shop dealers. “No one really bothers to find out if we are being given the proper amount of rations. Be it the Congress or the Telugu Desam or the TRS, they are all the same,” she asserts. Bills are not a game-changer for her. It’s the political party which delivers the goodies to her at the right time.
By Madhavi Tata in Mahabubnagar