Connect with us

Published

on

It’s a classic Indian cinema fight-in-the-desert scene. Against the background of dunes and depressions with a tiny sprinkling of scrub vegetation, the hero rises from the burning sands of a barren wasteland to beat the bad guys to a pulp. Adding plenty of heat and dust to that already bestowed by nature, he brings the film to a happy conclusion (except for the villains). Countless Indian movies have staged those scenes in some desolate wilderness of Rajasthan. Or even in the ravines of the Chambal valley in Madhya Pradesh.

Only, this arid wilderness scene (see video clip) used no locations from Rajasthan or the Chambal. It was shot deep in the southern peninsula, in Andhra Pradesh’s Rayalaseema region. This specific patch of some 1,000 acres in Anantapur district – once covered by millet cultivation – has over many decades become more and more a desert. That has been driven by often paradoxical factors – and created the kind of space that filmmakers send out location scouts to look for.

In Dargah Honnur village, where the major landowners of this patch reside, it was difficult to get anyone to believe we were not movie location scouts. “Which film is this for? When is it coming?” was either an explicit question or one on their minds. With some, you could see a quick ebbing of interest when they learned we were journalists.

The makers of the Telugu film that made the place famous – Jayam Manade Raa (Victory is Ours) – shot those fight scenes here between 1998 and 2000. Like any diligent commercial filmmakers would, they tinkered with their ‘set’ to enhance the desert effect. “We had to uproot our crop (for which they compensated us),” says Pujari Linganna, 45, whose family owns the 34 acres where the fight was shot. “We also removed some vegetation and small trees so it would look more real.” Deft camerawork and the intelligent use of filters did the rest.

If the makers of Jayam Manade Raa were shooting a 20-years-after sequel today, they would have to do much less. Time and tormented nature, and relentless human intervention, have effected all the desert enhancements they could ask for.

(This arid wilderness scene (see video clip) used no locations from Rajasthan or the Chambal. It was shot deep in the southern peninsula, in Andhra’s Rayalaseema region)

But it’s a curious desert patch. There is still cultivation – because there is still groundwater very close to surface. “We hit water in this patch at just 15 feet below,” says P. Honnureddy, Linganna’s son. In much of Anantapur, borewells won’t find water before 500-600 feet. In parts of the district, they have breached the 1,000-foot mark. Yet here is water gushing out of a four-inch borewell as we speak. That much water, so close to the surface, in this hot and sandy patch?

“That whole area lies in an extended riverbed,” explains Palthuru Mukanna, a farmer from a nearby village. What river? We can see nothing. “They built a dam [around five] decades ago, some 25-30 kilometres from Honnur, on the Vedavathi river that ran through here. Our stretch of Vedavathi (a tributary of the Tungabhadra – also called the Aghari) simply dried up.”

“That is indeed what happened,” says Malla Reddy of the Ecology Centre (of Anantapur’s Rural Development Trust) – few know this region as well as he does. “And the river may be dead but, over centuries, it helped create an underground reservoir of water that is now being relentlessly mined and extracted. At a rate which signals a coming disaster.”

That disaster won’t be long in coming. “There was hardly a single bore 20 years ago,” says V. L. Himachal, 46, a farmer with 12.5 acres in the desertified area. “It was all rainfed agriculture. Now there are between 300-400 borewells in about 1,000 acres. And we strike water by 30-35 feet, sometimes higher.” That’s one borewell to every three acres, or less.

That’s high density, even for Anantapur which, as Malla Reddy points out, “has close to 270,000 borewells, though the carrying capacity of the district is 70,000. And almost half this huge number are dry this year.” 

 

So what are the borewells in these badlands for? What’s being cultivated? What sticks out in the patch we’re exploring is not even the district’s all-pervasive groundnut crop, but bajra. That millet is cultivated here for seed multiplication. Not for consumption or the market, but for seed companies who have contracted the farmers for this job. You can see male and female plants laid out neatly in adjacent rows. The companies are creating a hybrid from two different strains of bajra. This operation will take a great deal of water. What’s left of the plant after seed extraction will at best serve as fodder.

“We get Rs. 3,800 per quintal for this seed replication work,” says Pujari Linganna. That seems low, given the labour and care involved – and the fact that the companies will sell those seeds to the same class of farmers at very high prices. Another cultivator on this patch, Y. S. Shantamma, says her family gets Rs. 3,700 a quintal.

Shantamma and her daughter Vandakshi say the problem of cultivating here is not water. “We even get water in the village though we have no piped connection at home.” Their headache is the sand which – besides the huge volume that already exists – can accumulate very rapidly. And trudging across even short distances on sand several feet deep can be tiring.

“It can simply destroy the work you’ve put in,” say mother and daughter. P. Honnureddy agrees, showing us the stretch beneath a sand dune where he had painstakingly laid out rows of plants – not four days ago. Now they are just furrows covered in sand. This place, part of an increasingly arid zone which sees strong winds hit the village, has sandstorms.

“Three months in the year – it’s raining sand in this village,” says M. Basha, another desert cultivator.  “It comes into our homes; it gets into our food.”  The winds bring sand flying into even those homes not so close to the dunes. Netting or extra doors don’t always work. “Isaka varsham [sand rain] is part of our lives now, we just live with it.” 

The sands are not strangers to D. Honnur village. “But yes, their intensity has risen,” says Himachal. A lot of shrubbery and little trees that formed serious wind barriers have gone. Himachal speaks knowledgably of the impact of globalisation and market economics. “Now we calculate everything in cash. The shrubs, trees and vegetation went because people wanted to use every inch of land for commercial cultivation.” And “if sands fall when seeds are in germination or sprouting,” says farmer M. Tippaiah, 55,  “the damage is total.”  Yields are lower despite their access to water. “We get three quintals of groundnut an acre, at best four,” says farmer K. C. Honnur Swamy, 32. The district’s average yield is around five.

They see no value in natural wind barriers? “They will only go for trees that have commercial value,” says Himachal. Which, unsuited to these conditions, may not grow here at all. “And anyway, the authorities keep saying they will help with trees, but that hasn’t happened.”

 “A few years ago,” says Palthuru Mukanna, “several government officials drove out into the dunes area for an inspection.” The desert safari ended badly and their SUV, mired in the sands, had to be towed out by the villagers with a tractor. “We haven’t seen any more of them since,” Mukanna adds. There are also periods, says farmer Mokha Rakesh, “when the bus cannot go that side of the village at all.”

The loss of shrub and forest is a problem across the entire Rayalaseema region. In Anantapur district alone, 11 per cent of area is classified as ‘forest’. Actual forest cover has dwindled to less than 2 per cent. That has had the inevitable impact on soil, air, water, and temperatures. The only large forest you see in Anantapur is the jungle of windmills – thousands of them – dotting the landscape everywhere, even bordering the mini-desert. These have come up on land purchased or leased long-term, by windmill companies.

Back in D. Honnur, a group of desert-patch cultivators assures us that things were always this way. They then go on to present compelling evidence to the contrary. The sands have always been there, yes. But their force, producing sandstorms, has grown. There was more shrub and cover earlier. Very little now. They’ve always had water, yes, but we learn later of the death of their river. That there were very few borewells two decades ago, hundreds now. Every one of them recalls a spike in the number of extreme weather episodes these past two decades.

Rainfall patterns have changed. “In terms of when we need the rains, I’d say they are 60 per cent less,” says Himachal. “There’s less rains around Ugadi [Telugu New Year’s Day, usually in April] these past few years.” Anantapur is touched – gingerly – by both south-west and north-east monsoons but derives the full-benefit of neither.

 Credit: P. Sainath/PARI

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Farm Land

Telangana real estate sector has high expectations from Budget

The budget is expected to be watched keenly by various sectors of the economy at a time when the economy is seeing a slowdown in growth.

Published

on

HYDERABAD: Hyderabad’s real estate sector has a lot of expectations from this budget. Stating that to improve the economy in the country, the real estate sector, which is a major pillar should be given the needed stimulus, the builders and the property developers are expecting a slew of reforms.

The budget is expected to be watched keenly by various sectors of the economy at a time when the economy is seeing a slowdown in growth. One expectation that is making rounds is a possible revision in the affordable housing limit, increased limit on interest on home loans and scrapping of long-term capital gains tax (LTCG) on the sale of properties. Speaking to Express, Jaideep Reddy, vice president of CREDAI, Hyderabad, said, “Affordable housing needs to be taken into serious consideration if the sector has to grow. The said limit of `45 lakh is on the lower side. Accordingly, the expectation is that the said limit would be revised upwards.”

He added, “We are also hoping for some relaxation in personal income tax slabs for the individuals. With this, surplus money can come back to the industry.” Another developer said that the probable scrapping in the upcoming budget of LTCG tax on the sale of properties will result in a higher amount of returns in the hands of investors. Given the rising interest and property rates, it is every home loan payer’s wish that there should be an increased limit on interest on home loan to at least `4 lakh per annum in the upcoming budget, said General Secretary, CREDAI, Rajasekhar Reddy.

Credits:Express News Service

Continue Reading

Farm Land

Farmland for sale by NEEMSBORO FARMS NARAYANA KHED, Hyderabad

Farmland for sale by NEEMSBORO FARMS NARAYANA KHED, Hyderabad

Published

on

About Property

Address: Near Bidar, NARAYANA KHED, Hyderabad, Hyderabad

Small investment on agricultural land and smart returns in short period
1.605 sq.Yards (5 guntalu) 300000/- Only
2.Each plot 50 malabar veepa trees
3.Spot registration
4.Pass book free
Location highlights:
1.20 kms to nimz (National investment and manufacturing zone)
2.30 kms from bidar, karnatraka
3.40 kms from zaheerabad
4.2kms from mandal head quarter nagal gidda
5.12 kms from narayankhed
6.0.5 km from bidar to nanded national highway
Project highlights :
1.30 feet & 20 feet internal roads
2. The land is fenced with barbed wire and security
3. Water storage system
4.Electrical transformers
5.Borewells
6.Club house with all amenities in 2 acres of land

Continue Reading

Farm Land

Hyderabad Real Estate Witnesses A Boom Amidst Slowdown

Property prices in Hyderabad are relatively lower when compared to other metropolises like Mumbai and Bangalore.

Published

on

The past decade was nothing short of a roller coaster ride for India’s real estate investors. With a multitude of factors, such as the demonetization, RERA, GST, and the more recent NBFC crisis coming into the picture, the sector’s growth prospects have taken a dip during recent months. Oddly, though, the real estate space in South India managed to flourish during a time when larger markets in other parts of the country struggled with declining sales. Apart from India’s IT capital Bangalore, the Hyderabad market showed great potential, eventually emerging as one of the hot destinations for PE investments in the real estate space.

According to data released by PropTiger, it was the only metro city in India where property prices increased by 17% during the first quarter of FY 2020 on a year-on-year basis. While this golden run has continued since the State bifurcation in 2014, activities in the Hyderabad’s real estate space have doubled only recently; in the last couple of months, to be precise. Industry estimates suggest that annual commercial leasing in Hyderabad has gone up from 4-4.5 million square feet to 9 million square feet, trailing only Bangalore, where the average is 13 million square feet.

Infrastructural improvements, increased inflow of working professionals, along with the government-led initiatives towards the ease of doing business have worked in favour of Hyderabad as well as its real estate sector. Moreover, with tech giants like Amazon and Apple making their way into the City of Pearls, the market has witnessed a sudden upsurge in the absorption, supply and cost of the property. Given this interesting scenario, let’s take a closer look at the fundamental growth drivers that have impacted the real estate market of Hyderabad.

New launches propelling the growth of commercial office space 

Home to numerous tech start-ups and global firms, Hyderabad is billed as the next IT hub of India. Last month, Amazon opened its biggest campus outside the US in this city. Located in Hyderabad’s financial district near Hi-Tech city, the campus covers an area of over 9.5 acres and is expected to house 15,000 employees. This is, in fact, amongst the largest centers of an MNC in India. Hence, it’s no secret that commercial office projects are driving investments in real estate and realty players are bullish on the Hyderabad market. Even outstation developers are currently eyeing the local market, thereby indicating excellent growth potential.

Higher demand for rental housing 

Hyderabad is a preferred destination for both students and salaried professionals. Every year, thousands of youngsters migrate to this city for better career prospects. Sample this, one-third of Amazon’s total India employee base works from Telangana, of which the majority resides in Hyderabad. This explains the growing appetite for rental housing and therefore more investment opportunities for property builders and home-owners alike. Besides corporate executives, college and university students are seeking rented accommodation facilities. In addition, the emergence of co-living space providers has further bolstered the state of the residential real estate in Hyderabad.

Reasonable pricing of properties

Property prices in Hyderabad are relatively lower when compared to other metropolises like Mumbai and Bangalore. And, this is what gives this city a competitive advantage in terms of real estate investments. While a handful of real estate giants operate in Hyderabad, the market is yet to get monopolized. As such, there are equal, if not more, opportunities for smaller and up-and-coming companies. The city has always been an IT/ITeS and R&D destination, but more avenues are now being explored. The residential and retail real estate, for example, is witnessing a massive uptick in terms of sales. Subsequently, co-living players are foraying into Hyderabad’s market, carving a new niche for themselves. Thanks to these abovementioned factors, Hyderabad is fast turning into a top real estate investment destination, presenting unparalleled opportunities to realty developers, buyers and even operators.

Credits: Sudhanshu Kejriwal

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors’ and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house

Continue Reading

Facebook

Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending

Copyright © 2020 Sthirasti.com All Rights Reserved