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Sense of alienation stalks tribals

G. Nagaraja

The Kukkunuru Tahasildar office with the name board showing its past affiliation to Telangana even after its merger with Andhra Pradesh. - Photo AVG Prasad
The Kukkunuru Tahasildar office with the name board showing its past affiliation to Telangana even after its merger with Andhra Pradesh. – Photo AVG Prasad

Students are apprehensive as they’ve technically become non-locals

A feeling of alienation stalks people in villages under Kukkunuru, Velerupadu and Burgampad mandals, which became part of West Godavri district following the Andhra Pradesh State Reorganisation Act, 2014. Thursday’s gesture of the district administration to reach out to the ceded areas to build bridges with the people who earlier belonged to Telangana hardly helped in inculcating a sense of inclusiveness among them.

The feeling of alienation among them was palpable, mainly with their very existence coming under question in the backdrop of the Indira Sagar project.

Nativity issues in education and employment, lack of geographical homogeneity between the ceded areas and the rest of West Godavari district, poor connectivity and failure of the authorities in implementing welfare programmes make them alienated. “We have become nobody’s babies. We don’t have drinking water and no seed to raise cotton,” a tribal told Collector Katamneni Bhaskar at a function at Kukkunuru.

Threat of submergenceAll villages in the ceded mandals are facing threat of submergence, thanks to the Polavaram project. Nothing tangible has come forth from the official machinery yet for provision of alternative lands and building R&R colonies for the project victims.

These merged areas are tucked away in a manner that one has to pass through the Telangana State through a stretch of nearly 50 km from Kukkunur on the Aswaraopet-Bhadrachalam road to enter the borders of West Godavari district near Jeelugumilli. Their gruelling bus journey to the ceded areas from the district headquarters has woken up the official machinery.

The bus that started from the District Collectorate with 35 district level officers representing various government departments at 7.30 a.m. one day reached Kukkunuru by 11.30 a.m. It is another one hour drive to Velerupadu from Kukkunuru.

Denial of opportunityStudents and unemployed youth fear denial of opportunities in education and employment since they technical became non-locals with their studies elsewhere in Telangana after the merger of the villages with Andhra Pradesh. The welfare schemes such as employment generation under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and distribution of titles for forest lands under enjoyment by tribals under the Forest Rights Act failed to trickle into these remote areas due to the bifurcation hiccups.

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