Hyderabad, Feb. 18: Seemandhra has lost the tug-of-war over Hyderabad to Telangana and its people are more than worried they will be treated like strangers in their own backyard.
“We have become strangers in a city developed with our sweat and blood,” said K.S. Rao, the director of the Chaitanya Bharati Engineering Institute, summing up Seemandhra folks’ fear that having Hyderabad as joint capital with Telangana for 10 years would not stop them from being treated like “migrants”.
Hyderabad, or the city of the Nizams, had become the crux of the bifurcation battle between Telangana and Seemandhra since December 2009. The battle raged in Parliament for over a week till the Andhra re-organisation bill was pushed through in the Lok Sabha today.
Spread over 275sqkm and having a population of 9.1 million, Hyderabad city is seen as a gateway between north and south India. From a “big village” with laid-back people, it has metamorphosed into a hub of education, information technology and health care, thanks to the efforts of successive Congress and Telugu Desam governments since the nineties.
Till 10 years ago, Hyderabad would have been a relatively cheap place to live in. But today, housing, food and transport costs have spiralled with the advent of IT companies and super-specialty hospitals, the coming up of the Shamshabad international airport and construction of numerous expressways. Over 3.5 lakh software professionals work in the city plus another 15 lakh as skilled labour.
“We were all happy about the development of Hyderabad. But we are now sad that we can no longer claim it as our own,” said Malleswari Devarakonda, who works in Gachibowli, the IT corridor of Hyderabad.
Educationists too voiced fears about losing their “foothold” and Seemandhra students losing the “local advantage” in Hyderabad institutions. The city is home to almost 320 of the 800-odd engineering colleges in Andhra. It also has three medical colleges and 15 universities, including two central varsities.
Seemandhra politicians had wanted Hyderabad to be made a Union territory because of the huge revenues it earned annually — estimated at over Rs 65,000 crore — as a centre of global economic activity. Since that did not happen, they are now wary that Telangana leaders will deny them their due share.
They also fear they will be treated like “untouchables” and that Telangana leaders will take revenge on them for injustices meted out by Seemandhra in the sixties and seventies.
“Our elders have, in the past, let down the people of Telangana with regard to jobs, political posts and social elevation,” a Seemandhra MLA from Guntur said.
Gopalkrishna, a teacher from Seemandhra working in a Hyderabad government school, said: “I will lose the chance of living in a city with Metro rail and an international airport.”
Another resident, Nirmala Goud, said: “My children are born and bred in Hyderabad. They will lose their nativity as we are originally from Kurnool in Rayalaseema.”