Graveyard for us and Power for them?

By: Vijayshree

Even before India became independent, a coal mining town like Bellampalli, Adilabad district, in Telangana had its own power generation plant. And as is well known, Hyderabad had electricity much before, Chennai had; and it, had its own power generating plant, in Hussain Sagar. But all these, are things of the past, even the traces of the electric generation plant, have been destroyed in Hyderabad and the ugly, NTR Park, coming in its place.

So why are we, power deficient now and why, is the murderer crying foul over, the most perfectly committed crime, against the people of the state of Telangana? Why is it that, Telangana been, turned into a graveyard in every way, while Andhra is enjoying uninterrupted power supply?

We have seen statistics being doled out, to show, how we have been cheated of power, but what I would like to present here, is the human angle story, on this graveyards for us and Power for them, saga. Singareni is one of the biggest and oldest Coal mining, Companies of India. As the region with such rich coal resources and sufficient water flow, we should’ve been power surplus, while what is opposite is the daily truth, now.

This coal does not come out easily. Our miners have been risking exposure, to death and injuries, for many decades, to get, the black gold out. Families of the miners, going into the wells, digging for coal, never know for sure, whether they would come out alive, and unharmed, on any given day. The threat of the grave yard was thus, always looming large for the miners and their families.

If that was not enough, in their greed, for bringing out huge amounts of coal quickly, the erstwhile Andhra Rulers opted, for Open cast mining. This in effect, turned large tracts of pristine forest land, many green fields and along with it, villages around them, into grave yards.

I noticed a drastic change, when I visited Kaleshwaram in the year 2012, the entire stretch abounding the Bhupalapally coal mining town, is nothing, but a graveyard. Absolutely nothing grows there, in a place which was so green, that I used to peep, out of the car window, to look and admire, at it. Villages, fields, forest, everything vanished and in its place, just open ground, looking like battle scarred place, stared back at me. I quickly closed the window and looked down, just to shut out, what I did not wish, to be, witness to. This was really a cold and brutal way, of literally nuking a place out, for bringing out, coal in large quantities.

The villagers who lost their precious lands, were, never compensated nor their pleas, given a hearing. Their lands and livelihoods had been turned, into graveyards, by the open cast mining system.

Every village in Telangana was built, around a small pond or a small lake and an efficient irrigation system was in place, to take care of their, agricultural needs. First, this irrigation system connected to the ponds and lakes was left, in shambles and instead the ones, which depend on electricity driven bore wells, came into place.

Initially, there were never proper roads, connecting the villages, so, the rulers promised roads, for bringing in prosperity for the villages and freedom, from poverty. Yes, the roads did come, but with it came, the Mafia, in all shapes the real estate mafia, the sand mining mafia, the stone quarrying mafia, the forest poaching mafia and lastly, but the deadliest of them, the seed mafia.

This seed mafia brought with it, death, amongst the farmers. They were no ordinary seeds, but seeds which meant poison; a poison drunk by the farmers, as the seeds, they purchased at an exorbitant price, in a market controlled by a mafia, never sprouted, most of the time. The seeds sprouted despair and death instead. Add to this, the humongous costs of the pesticides, which the farmers were made, to believe was a panacea, to all the ills, dogging their crops.

The farmer was thus literally, sowing the seeds of death and discontentment when, all these were lethally combined. The persons who are taking to the streets, staging rasta rokos, and shedding tears, have full knowledge of, the time, when the seeds of death were sown, but think, that, by enacting these kinds of dramas, they can pass the act of the crime upon, whoever is holding, the reins of power, in the newly formed state.

When the coal miners of Singareni joined in the strike in solidarity with the Government employees, for the cause of Telangana as part of the, ‘Sakala janula samme’, the entire country was almost pushed towards the brink of darkness. Then, why is it that the state where the Singareni coal mines, lie, is staring at graveyards in every way and suffering power cuts. The answer lies in the innumerable power purchase agreements which were entered into by the erstwhile Andhra rulers, with the private power generation plants set up in Andhra, with our coal and our water. The so called rules of the AP re-organization bill, are being read into, by our neighbouring state, only in terms of what is advantageous to them, and the rest is being literally, trashed.

The central government led by the BJP, has decided to remain a mute spectator to this, and is thus abetting the crime, in favour, of its allies the TDP. A central government which worries, over, two, good for nothing channels, getting blocked in Telangana, watches, in what looks like only, a feeling of satisfaction, that a new state requiring power, is cheated out, of its rightful share and yet, all the tribunals are sent into an overdrive, even if one drop of water, is claimed as having been deprived of, by the Andhra state.

Farmer’s suicides should be addressed, to, as a whole, not just as a part, which is- the power angle. The seeds, pesticides, and fertilizers costs should be also reined in. The project for revival of the ponds and lakes should be undertaken in a big way, and also, organic farming should be encouraged, with incentives. We should go back, to the old farming methods, where cow manure was used both as a fertilizer and a pesticide.

Our rural side should be freed, of the over dependence, on power and for God’s sake, let us, get those ,open and unused bore wells closed, so that, they do not become, yet another graveyard, for the farming community’s children.

The coal which comes out from the bowels of Telangana, comes at huge environmental and human costs, yet, it is only feeding the power generation plants from Andhra and our hands are tied by the power purchase agreements and also, a central government, which will issue orders at jet speed if anything is done by us, to stop the supply of the coal, to those plants.

I am not defending the TRS government here, I am only defending Telangana’s rights and how, obscene it feels, when the people who are responsible for the crisis of the farmers, are themselves pointing fingers, when all the fingers should be pointed at them.

This, for me, is the tragedy, of the farmers of Telangana that their deaths should be made a constant spectacle of, their photo even, be used in the disaster tourism, of the neighbouring state and finally, a poison factory called Andhra media, sets in forth its machinery, in full force, to keep on giving sound bytes, on how the farmers have been pushed to death, by just a four month old government.

They never, will tell us, how they have robbed us, of our due share, how they looted our coal, how they stole our waters, and how all the power plants sprouted in Andhra, with all our resources and yet, the power is for them and graveyard is for us.

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