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Hyderabad gets the blues

Wednesday, 19 February 2014 - 6:00am IST | Place: Hyderabad | Agency: DNA

Despite being the most contentious issue in the Telangana versus Seemandhra battle, Hyderabad has been retained as the joint capital of the newly created states, the Bill for which was passed in the Lok Sabha on Tuesday. The decision has riled many in the city of Nizams.

Spread over 275 km, with a population of 9.1 million, Hyderabad is viewed as a gateway between north and south India. Over the last decade, it has evolved from being a 'big village' and among the most inexpensive cities to live in, in the country, to a hub of over 1,500 multinational companies and a large number of educational and healthcare institutions. Expressways and a new airport have now pushed up the cost of living.

Hyderabad's urban economy now generates Rs 65,000 crore annually and provides 3.5 lakh jobs to software professionals and another 15 lakh to skilled labourers.

Seemandhra natives, many of whom are responsible for the city's boom, are therefore unhappy about sharing the capital. One of the city's real estate tycoon, Atluri Subba Rao, also from Seemandhra, pointed out that the private international airport at Shamshabad is built by the GMR Group, whose founders too come from Srikakulam in Seemandhra.

"We were all happy about the development, but sad that we cannot claim it as ours," said Seemandhra native Malledwari Devarakonda who works in Hyderabad's IT hub Gachibowli.

Another native, KS Rao, director of Chaitanya Bharati Engineering Institute, among the top five institutes in the city, said: "We've all become strangers in a city developed by our sweat and blood."

For that matter even Congress and Telegu Desam Party (TDP) MLAs from Hyderabad are unhappy over the split from Seemandhra. At the beginning of the Telangana agitation, Nagender and Mukesh, city MLAs and ministers in Kiran Kumar Reddy government, had pleaded for Hyderabad to be made a union territory (UT) and had opposed the creation of Telagnana. "In Telangana, we will lose all advantage and identity," Nagender had said then.

Part of the reason UT status is being sought for Hyderabad is because being the center of economic activity, it brings in annual revenue of Rs 65,000 crore. The other reason is Seemandhra residents' fear that Telangana political leaders will treat them as "untouchables" in revenge for the mistakes committed by their forefathers in the 1960s and 1970s. "Our elders let down Telangana leaders and people when giving out jobs, political posts or even in social hierarchy," said a young Seemandhra MLA from Guntur who did not wish to be named.

Others point out that Hyderabad as a joint capital is not a tenable solution for Seemandhra as then the capital will be in a "foreign land".

"If Hyderabad is joint capital for Seemandhra, it will be cut off from its main land by about 200 kms," said Telangana Rashtra Samiti president K Chandrasekhar Rao.

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