Anantapur, Andhra Pradesh: It’s a conventional Indian cinema fight-in-the-wasteland scene. Against the heritage of dunes and depressions with a tiny sprinkling of scrub flowers, the hero rises from the burning sands of a barren wasteland to beat the terrible guys to a pulp. Adding lots of warmth and dirt to that already bestowed by using nature, he brings the film to a happy conclusion (besides for the villains). Countless Indian films have staged the one’s scenes in some desolate tract of Rajasthan. Or even in the ravines of the Chambal valley in Madhya Pradesh.
Only, this arid desolate tract scene (see video clip) used no locations from Rajasthan or the Chambal. It became shot deep within the southern peninsula, in Andhra Pradesh’s Rayalaseema place. This precise patch of a few 1,000 acres in Anantapur district – as soon as blanketed via millet cultivation – has over many a long time grow to be more and more wilderness. That has been driven by means of often paradoxical factors – and created the type of space that filmmakers send out place scouts to search for.
In Dargah Honor village, where the major landowners of this patch live, it was hard to get all and sundry to agree with we had been no longer filming area scouts. “Which movie is that this for? When is it coming?” changed into either an express query or one on their minds. With some, you could see a brief ebbing of hobby once they found out we had been journalists.
The makers of the Telugu film that made the region famous – Jayam Manade Raa (Victory is Ours) – shot the ones fight scenes right here between 1998 and 2000. As any diligent business filmmakers would, they tinkered with their ‘set’ to decorate the desert effect. “We needed to uproot our crop (for which they compensated us),” says Pujari Linganna, forty-five, whose circle of relatives owns the 34 acres wherein the fight become shot. “We additionally eliminated a few vegetation and small bushes so it might look more real.” Deft camerawork and the wise use of filters did the rest.
If the makers of Jayam Manade Raa were taking pictures of a 20-years-after sequel nowadays, they might have to do a good deal much less. Time and tormented nature, and relentless human intervention have effected all the wilderness enhancements they could ask for.

But it’s a curious desolate tract patch. There continues to be cultivation – due to the fact there’s nevertheless groundwater very close to surface. “We hit the water on this patch at simply 15 feet below,” says P. Honnureddy, Linganna’s son. In a great deal of Anantapur, borewells won’t find water before 500-six hundred toes. In elements of the district, they’ve breached the 1,000-foot mark. Yet here is water gushing out of a four-inch borewell as we talk. That lots water, so near the surface, on this hot and sandy patch?

“That complete location lies in a prolonged riverbed,” explains Palthuru Mukanna, a farmer from a close-by village. What river? We can see not anything. “They constructed a dam [around five] many years in the past, a few 25-30 kilometers from Honor, on the Vedavathi river that ran thru here. Our stretch of Vedavathi (a tributary of the Tungabhadra – additionally called the Aghari) sincerely dried up.”
“That is indeed what came about,” says Malla Reddy of the Ecology Centre (of Anantapur’s Rural Development Trust) – few realize this place in addition to he does. “And the river can be dead however, over centuries, it helped create an underground reservoir of water that is now being relentlessly mined and extracted. At a fee which indicators a coming catastrophe.”
That catastrophe received’t be lengthy in coming. “There changed into hardly ever an unmarried bore twenty years in the past,” says V.L. Himachal, forty-six, a farmer with 12.Five acres within the desertified location. “It was all rainfed agriculture. Now there are among 300-four hundred borewells in approximately 1,000 acres. And we strike water by means of 30-35 ft, every now and then higher.” That’s one borewell to every three acres, or much less.
That’s high density, even for Anantapur which, as Malla Reddy factors out, “has close to 270,000 borewells, even though the carrying capability of the district is 70,000. And almost half of this huge range is dry this year.”
So what are the borewells in these badlands for? What’s being cultivated? What sticks out in the patch we’re exploring is not even the district’s all-pervasive groundnut crop, but bajra. That millet is cultivated right here for seed multiplication. Not for intake or the market, however for seed agencies who have contracted the farmers for this job. You can see male and lady plant life laid out well in adjoining rows. The businesses are developing a hybrid from one of a kind traces of bajra. This operation will take a brilliant deal of water. What’s left of the plant after seed extraction will at satisfactory function fodder.
“We get Rs 3,800 according to quintal for this seed replication paintings,” says Pujari Linganna. That seems low, given the labor and care worried – and the truth that the organizations will sell the seeds of the one to the same class of farmers at very high costs. Another cultivator on this patch, Y.S. Shantamma, says her circle of relatives gets Rs three,seven-hundred a quintal.
Shantamma and her daughter Vandakshi say the trouble of cultivating here isn’t always water. “We even get water inside the village even though we haven’t any piped connection at home.” Their headache is the sand which – except the huge volume that already exists – can accumulate very rapidly. And trudging throughout even quick distances on sand several ft deep can be tiring.

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