On May 5, residents of the district will vote to ensure a place for their representatives in the State Assembly, and either continue with the leaders they feel appropriate, or replace them with new ones; however, they still hold a very pessimistic view on some issues which have plagued the district for the last 65 years.
Several studies have placed Bidar on the list of backward districts; the D.M. Nanjundappa panel for one, which identified four of the five taluks in the district as being backward. According to the human development index in Karnataka, Bidar is among the five least developed districts in the State; while the Union government’s Ministry of Minority Welfare put Bidar among the 100 least developed districts in India.
These studies have offered various reasons for the district’s backwardness: the first is livelihood.
Nine out of every 10 persons in the district depend on farming. Three-fourths of them work as agricultural labourers, as per a study of the labour force. “This should have been addressed by setting up agro-based industries and inviting manufacturing or service industries into the district. Successive governments have failed to do so. They have also never focussed on irrigation in the district,” said Ishwarappa Chakote, member of the Zilla Abhivruddhi Horata Samiti.
The second reason: non -remunerative farming practices, such as low acreage of cash crops or horticultural crops. The lack of proper irrigation facilities also adds to the woes of farmers. The existing projects can provide water only to around 7 per cent of the farmland in the district, according to officials in the Water Resource Department.
“The biggest let-down is the failure of governments to expand irrigation facilities,” says Veerabhushan Nandagave, Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha leader. “Bidar is situated in the Godavari basin, and was accorded 21 tmcft of Godavari water by the Bachawat report; however, successive governments have not even considered this. Some leaders say we will build barrages across the Karanja and Manjra to utilise the allocation, but we have not heard anything concrete from the State government,” he said.
Khaji Arshed Ali, former MLC and editor of Bidar Ki Awaaz says the immediate focus should be education and health. “Most development schemes are focussed on building physical infrastructure. Few seem to think about human resource development, which is sad. Development does not mean having better roads or bridges. It means easy access to healthcare and education and better-paying jobs. Governments should focus on increasing the fundamentals, like literacy rates and basic healthcare and increased admission in higher education courses,” he said.
“Tourism development is another neglected area. Three of our taluks, Bidar, Basavakalyan and Humnabad have heritage sites and can be developed if the government works towards increasing tourist activity. Little has been done on this front till now,” says Shailendra Kavadi, president of the NGO Parisara Vahini.