Hyderabad Heritage శుక్రవారం, నవం 21 2008 

Charting digital history


Personality – A historian turns to digital avenues to reach the audience


Mozzam Jahi market in 1930s by Mohammed khalidi
LEGATEE HISTORY Mohammed Khalidi clicked this image of Mozzam Jahi market in the 1930s


A few days back, there was a buzz in the Urdu Hall in Himayatnagar as a historian took the audience down a path of Hyderabad they thought they were vaguely familiar. A building here, a monument there, a bit of biographical information later were unveiled through a power point presentation.


Historian and a power point presentation and not a tome? But then Omar Khalidi is not your everyday historian willing to follow the beaten path. A Hyderabadi, who now works as a librarian at the MIT, he posits the contrarian view and succeeds in being heard. Years after he wrote Hyderabad After The Fall and then the controversial Khaki and Ethnic Violence in India, he is now exploring the digital avenues of spreading a word about history. “Printing books has become very expensive, distribution is also a problem and digital publishing is the future and is the path to follow. Physical libraries are passé,” he says.


In June this year he posted his collection of photographs on the MIT website showing the Hyderabadi architectural heritage (which formed a part of the PPP in Hyderabad).


Among the photographs and the text is one showing the Mozzam Jahi market frontage with wide open spaces, credited to Mohammed Khalidi. “That was clicked by my father. Many of the photographs are inherited but a number of people helped me put together the collection including Hans Winterberg, Anuradha Reddy and M. A. Nayeem,” says Omar.


Perhaps leading to a book or a research paper, Omar’s historical journey is not without heartaches that Hyderabadis have when they see history disappear in front of their eyes.


“It kills you when you see such disregard for heritage. It is a shame and awful shame. The Badshahi Ashur Khana ought to be an international heritage site and is now occupied by auto drivers, mechanics whose lame excuse for overrunning the place is that they have been living there for a long time. They should be provided alternative housing sites. We should keep our historical record for the future,” he says.




Source: The Hindu, Metro Plus Hyderabad, Tuesday November 11, 2008

Polavaram Dam- Evicted & harassed మంగళవారం, నవం 18 2008 

The last crop


R Uma Maheshwari

R Uma Maheshwari
Rama Rao’s field won’t grow food anymore
Compensation fails to rehabilitate Polavaram’s displaced

The day Boragam Rama Rao saw the fresh stocks of his corn crop crushed by large excavators and crane tractors, he knew he had made that transition—from tribal farmer to tribal ‘beneficiary’. At least until he starts reconstructing his life all over again: with Rs 1.2 lakh and a piece of land as yet uncultivable. Rama Rao is the sarpanch of the Mamidigundi panchayat in Andhra Pradesh’s West Godavari district. He has lost nearly a hectare (ha) of land to Indira Sagar Polavaram dam project across the river Godavari.

According to Andhra Pradesh government’s figures, the project will displace 276 villages in Khammam and East and West Godavari districts of the state.




And if the 2001 census is any indicator, 2,37,000 people face displacement—more than 50 per cent of them adivasis.

“Officials told us last year that it would take us eight to 10 years for the barrage dam to come up and we would not be evacuated until waters came in. They assured us that we could continue to farm our lands in Mamidigundi and also enjoy the relief and rehabilitation package,” Rama Rao said. This year, his village was among the first villages to accept the relief and rehabilitation package.

People regret the deal now. “The government acquired more than 80 ha from our village. We were given barely 65 ha as compensation at the relief and rehabilitation colony in Gunjavaram,” Rama Rao lamented. “Back at Mamidigundi, all my crops were rain-fed. I got 40 bags of paddy per acre as the first and 30 to 40 bags of corn for the second crop. The authorities have not compensated me for the damage to my standing crops because they say I have taken the relief and rehabilitation package. They placed orders of arrest (on charges of criminal trespass on government land) when we went to harvest the last crop. At least they could have allowed us to enjoy that last yield from our land,” he continued.

R&R colony

At the relief and rehabilitation colony at Gunjavaram, Boragam Buchiraju was supervising the construction of a new home. He was in a rush to complete the job; he had to start preparing the fields (part of the compensation package) a few kilometers away.

The Buchiraju home under construction

Buchiraju’s father, Kamaraju, is bit of an exception. No other Mamidigundi resident has begun constructing a home at Gunjavaram. Many have already used up the compensation money in bribing officials, paying back earlier loans and in purchasing immediate necessities. Even Kamaraju has spent Rs 80,000 of the Rs 1.2 lakh given for house construction in just putting up a basement.

With the price of bricks, sand, iron and cement hitting the roof in the last few months, many wonder if they will reach that point of laying the foundation.

Kamaraju said to begin agricultural activities afresh on the new lands they would need to invest a minimum of Rs 15,000; then there is the cost of seeds, fertilizers and labour. Even the daily bus or shared autorickshaw trips between the relief and rehabilitation land in Gunjavaram and Mamidigundi cost at least Rs 40 a day. “We would have to spend double of what we spent on our fields in Mamidigundi,” Rama Rao said. “Fields in Gunjavaram do not have Mamidigundi’s water retention capacity, he explained and added that the farmers will have to pay three times the labour cost to make the land cultivable.

But Kamaraju and Rama Rao are still somewhat fortunate. Consider the plight of Boragam Pandamma, a landless labourer. “They gave my family Rs 1.7 lakh. Would it last till we start building the house there? The labour costs of just a verandah and a room is around Rs 2 lakh. Cement and bricks are as dear as gold. When we question the officials, they ask us to manage within that amount.”



Source: Down to Earth, 18 November 2008