The village’s drainage water is being let into a Dalit farmer’s field by authorities, saying that it is a natural gradient.

3 people standing in front of a field: Caste discrimination lands a Telangana village’s drain water in a Dalit farmer’s field
news Caste discrimination Saturday, June 18, 2022 - 19:28

Thirty-year-old Gurram Ashok, a PhD student from University of Hyderabad, was supposed to submit his thesis this month. However, a conflict pertaining to their agricultural land has been distracting him and affecting his academic career. The 30-year-old research scholar is a resident of Edlapalli village in Jayashankar Bhupalpally district. The village’s drainage water has been let into the 20 guntas of agricultural land of Ashok’s family, depriving them of their livelihood. Ashok, a Dalit, belonging to Madiga caste, alleges this is a clear case of caste-based discrimination. A vexed Ashok has now been forced to set aside his thesis submission and follow up with the authorities and elected representatives, hoping for justice.

Earlier in April this year, the village Sarpanch’s husband, Jangama Bapu, diverted the village’s drainage which starts from Madiga wadas (colony) to their field. Originally, the drainage was supposed to pass through the lanes of the Mudiraj community– a Backward Class. However, after objections from the Mudiraj community who had protested against the waste water coming from Madiga wada, the diversion was made. “While conflict was going on, the Mudirajas had expressed that they did not want waste water coming from the Madiga settlements into their lanes. Madigas eat beef and could throw the waste like bones etc into the drainage which would pass through their lanes, so they objected to it,” Ashok said.

He alleged that the Sarpanch’s husband, also a Dalit, belonging to Mala community, sided with the Mudirajas and deliberately diverted the drainage, which has affected them. Seeking justice, Ashok’s father and elder brother approached the local district officials on numerous occasions without any desired outcome, he lamented.

“I went back to my village and gave representation to the officials twice. Initially, after learning that this was an open case of caste-based discrimination, the Additional Collector had offered all help in the matter. He assured us justice, but now after conducting an inspection, he too has been faulting us,” Ashok said.

While Ashok says that the land in conflict has been used for cultivation for more than 20 years, the Additional Collector observes that the land is a natural gradient where storm water used to flow.

Speaking to TNM, Additional Collector Divakar said, “It is not that the drainage is let into their field, but the drainage is sent across their field. There is a channel. The drainage has been in existence for more than 20 years, but since the population has increased, the water flow also has increased. So the water is spilling into their field.”

According to Divakar, the Gram Panchayat is willing to construct a concrete canvas drain using the Gram Panchayat funds and ensure that the drainage water goes to the waste land without affecting them. However, the victims are not ready for this solution. Divakar said that they were not agreeable to the solution as they felt that if a drainage was constructed, then agricultural labourers might not come to work because of the stench. “They want us to divert the water in a different path. But there are no other places which are tilted downwards for the water to flow. If we have to do that, we will incur an expenditure of Rs 35 lakh, which is way over the budget.” 

Ashok says that the local MLA Sridhar Babu had promised that he would ensure that their livelihood was not affected, but the local administration was not heeding to him. “The MLA had called up the Assistant Engineer and said that if a drainage has to be newly constructed without affecting us, he will provide the money through his own MLA funds or get the funds from the Collector, but the Assistant Engineer has been against this idea and stopping it on technical grounds,” Ashok alleged.

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