A little after Sunday midnight, the Alampur taluk panchayat put up a banner on NH 7, between Kurnool and the Alampur X road, saying “Welcome to Telangana state”. The site where the banner was put up will, over the next couple of weeks, see the first checkposts demarcating the newly-bifurcated states of Telangana and the residual Andhra Pradesh.
On Monday morning, a small ceremony was held at the site. Some civil society members from Kurnool wished a small delegation from Alampur, including the local MLA, a “happy birthday”. By midday, workers at what was the AP Tourism Hotel in Alampur town, located some 15 kilometres away, had blanked out the word “AP’’ from their signboards.
“This is no longer Andhra Pradesh, it is Telangana. New signboards saying Telangana Tourism Hotel and Telangana Tourism Development Corporation are being prepared but we are blanking out “AP’’ from the signboards in the meanwhile,’’ said a tourism department employee, sticking white paper on the hotel’s signboards.
With the creation of India’s 29th state of Telangana, Alampur in Mahbubnagar district has overnight become the border town on the Telangana side. There is a general sense of happiness and achievement around Alampur that a six-decade struggle for separate statehood, involving suicides by some 1,200 students in the last decade alone, has finally come true.
There is, however, also a sense of trepidation and doubt about how life will change, as Alampur has for years been dependent on Kurnool town, in the residual Andhra Pradesh side, for economic and social sustenance. Separated only by the meandering Tungabhadra River till now, the people of Alampur are gradually waking up to concerns over what effect the creation of physical borders in the 15-km stretch that separates Alampur from Kurnool will have on their daily lives.
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From bus services to college education, sale of its agricultural produce to water supply, Rights Tenancy and Crop (RTC) certificates to vehicle registrations, Alampur has relied on Kurnool.
“There isn’t a single degree college in Alampur. For generations we have sent our children to Kurnool for their higher education. Now that Kurnool is in another state, we will have to send our children to Mahbubnagar which is 100 kilometres away. Otherwise, there could be problems in getting employment in Telangana with the degree certificates from Kurnool,’’ said the TDP’s Alampur taluk in-charge S Anjaneyalu.
“There is a deep connection between Alampur and Kurnool. The consequence of severing this connection is just dawning on people. People in Alampur sell their goods in Kurnool and get their supplies — from rice to fuel — in Kurnool. Auto-rickshaws and goods carriers traverse the route five times a day. Checkposts and taxes will have a huge effect,’’ said Lakshmipathy Reddy, an Alampur-based reporter for a Telugu news channel.
For instance, the entire government bus service for Alampur has until now been supplied from the AP State Road Transportation Corporation depots located in Kurnool. “The buses will now have to come from Mahbubnagar which is 100 kilometres away to service the needs of Alampur,’’ said the TDP official.
The Congress MLA in Alampur, Sampath Kumar, admitted he has his work cut out in integrating Alampur with the newly-formed state of Telangana and its TRS Chief Minister K Chandrasekhara Rao. “I will approach the new government and seek a bus depot for Alampur as soon as possible. Alampur has been allotted 15.9 TMC of water from the Tungabhadra and we are hoping that the new government will be able to ensure supply of the full quota,’’ he said.
As many as 130 villages in Alampur are dependent on water supply from Kurnool for irrigation, and like the rest of Telangana, Alampur is dependent on power generated in Andhra Pradesh for its energy needs. “There are doubts about how much water and power they will be willing to give us now. Earlier, if there was a shortfall, we only needed to approach the Kurnool Collector for help. Now, they are already saying we need to pay for the power and water,’’ said Anjaneyalu.
“After a six-decade-long struggle and the sacrifices of thousands of people, the state of Telangana has been created. The new Chief Minister has a lot of promises to fulfil now,’’ he said.