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    Published On : Sun, Dec 20th, 2015

    Dear Ashish Deshmukh ,Time is passing by tragically, Vidarbha is dying. Act now!

    File Photo: Ashish Deshmukh leader of Saprate Vidarbha took out a rally (padyatra) from Shahid chouk, Itwari Nagpur on Saturday. Pic by Sudarshan Sakharkar

    File Photo: Ashish Deshmukh leader of Seprate Vidarbha took out a rally (padyatra) from Shahid chouk, Itwari Nagpur .

    Dear Ashish Deshmukh (MLA and dedicated ‘Vidarbha’ proponent),

    Saw the column in today’s newspapers that you are planning to move privilege motion against paper Samana for their derogatory editorial and remarks against Aney, CM and you. Their opposition to the notion of Vidarbha has upset you, you claim.

    But we people of Vidarbha have more expectations of you than this one action Ashish! How does it help that you take a strong stand against a Mumbai based, Shiv Sena mouthpiece propoganda paper called Samana? Shiv Sena is known for opposing Vidarbha tooth and nail – they will oppose anyone who stands for it, so what is so strange about their latest editorial? What does it matter what it says and who it criticizes?

    For the people of Vidarbha time matters. Actions matter. Actions that get results matter. When it was their time to take action, they did it. They voted YOU and other BJP MLAs to power believing that you were 100% dedicated to the cause of Vidarbha. Like you have said in your statement, an unforeseen 44 MLAs were sent to the Maharasthra Assembly by people of Vidarbha! They rejected the Congress National Party to whom they have been so faithful and loyal till now, just based on this ONE stand of BJP – your avowed support and allegiance to the formation of Vidarbha.

    It is time to ask – were you sincere about this commitment? What are you doing to fulfill this promise you made to the electorate of this region, which was once so rich and prosperous, its rich soil yielding crops that got satisfactory remuneration for the hard working farmers; and the farmers so enterprising and so enthusiastic that they were constantly bringing new fruits and new crops that they tried out on their fields and made successful.

    DO YOU KNOW THE FAMOUS NAGPUR SANTRA WAS NOT TO BE FOUND IN NAGPUR OR VIDARBHA TILL ABOUT 50 YEARS AGO? It was three enterprising farmers from Warud in Amraoti district who transported the orange saplings to our area and made it our own fruit! They proved that a farmer growing orange orchards could get rich and supply oranges all over the country.

    What did you ( politicians, rulers of the state) give them in return?

    They had asked for JUST TWO THINGS – irrigation facilities that would replenish the fast depleting ground water; and cheap transportation facility for their precious produce via goods trains!

    In so many decades since Vidarbha joined Maharashtra, successive governments failed them on both fronts.

    They failed not just orange, but the original cotton farmers of Vidarbha. Cotton was called White Gold once upon a time not long ago. As recently as in the 1970s, one quintal of cotton and one gram of gold literally was priced the same! And where are the two rates today? What has brought doom and gloom to cotton farming of Vidarbha? Do you know, or care to know that when the British ruled over us, the international price of Cotton was decided by the Amraoti Cotton market? So rich did this crop make many people of Amraoti district – and other taluka places of Vidarbha including your constituency of Katol, that Hindi films made in Mumbai were financed by these Cotton traders! That is why a new movie first opened in Amraoti before being released in the rest of the country!

    The first Textile Mill of the country was set up by Tatas in Nagpur – it was called the Empress Mills. What forced it to close? Why did so many people lose their source of livelihood and farmers their valuable market?

    Why did NOGA – Nagpur Orange growers Association – formed by Maharashtra Agro Industries Development Corporation close down ? Why did they not ensure that they got expertise from across the world that would have ensured that orange farming and the product ‘Orange’ was refined and developed so much that its juice, jams, jellies, marmalade and such products were in demand everywhere? ( I am sure you must be visiting Mahabaleshwar ( a hill station near Pune) and must have seen how they have developed industries based on strawberry farming and processing over there ? Or how the Alphonso Mangoes grown in the Konkan area are exported to so many countries and processed as fruit juice too. Why has the ‘Nagpur orange’ faltered on all such fronts? Our farmer definitely was not lacking in trying out new things! What encouragement did he get? What succor has he got from YOUR government this year when prices have crashed and oranges are being thrown on the roads?

    Sorry to say – but the ONLY Nagpur/ Vidarbha asset that successive Maharashtra governments have been interested in is COAL. For this one commodity they rape our other natural asset – our forests, pollute our rivers, make our cities like Chandrapur unliveable all so they can provide assured power to their industries based in Mumbai, Pune Nasik and Aurangabad! 20% of the power that is transmitted from Vidarbha to Western Maharashtra is lost in transmission – and we, the people living here, not only lose our coal but also contribute to covering for these transmission losses!

    WHY DO WE HAVE TO BUY POWER AT THE SAME PRICE AS PEOPLE OF MUMBAI AND PUNE?

    All these issues are driving the death knell for our once prosperous Vidarbha state, nay ‘country’ which has been ‘captured’ and exploited by the then impoverished and undeveloped areas of Maharashtra the streets of which are lined with gold now!

    What was Mumbai once but a series of fishermen villages living in hutments along the coast? Today, it has the costliest real estate anywhere in the world. You know all this, YOUR family owns properties in Mumbai – not just stray apartments here and there but entire buildings …we are proud that a Nagpur family has prospered so much, but have you shared your gains with people who sent you to Mumbai in the first place?

    What did Pune have except for rugged mountain ranges dotted with Marathas forts?

    Even in that area, the Nagpur Kings had far surpassed Kolhapur and Pune. the Kingdom of our Bhonsles spread from coast to coast of the country. The BIGGEST empire ever carved out by a single king! They say in Orrisa when children used to cry, mothers would hush them saying ” keep quiet, or Maratha will come!” They meant soldiers of the Nagpur king’s army – not Pune!

    Why go so much into the past? If you care to find out – the very FIRST airport of the country was the Nagpur Airport – yes, I have checked and confirmed this fact from experts – but what is the state of Nagpur Airport today? We call it ‘international’ – but do a couple of flights to Middle East really make it so? While other cities add destinations, we lose some every year… we had direct flights to Hyderabad, to Calcutta, to Bhuvaneshwar, which have been discontinued. Why has Nagpur Airport not been privatized yet as planned? Till some concrete action does not materialize it will remain in limbo, neither developed by the Civil aviation Ministry, nor private sector.

    Meanwhile, Nagpur families keep losing their young generations when children who have thrived in Nagpur, been educated here and love being Nagpurians, have to reluctantly pack their bags and leave permanently for places where they get jobs. Soon, their parents have to sell their properties in Vidarbha cities and move to where the youngsters are.

    Because of this , we are seeing a population drain that has deprived us of 4 Vidhan Sabha seats and one Lok Sabha seat. Less seats means less representation and less money coming our way for development.

    Nagpur was such a thriving Trading centre; a city where many Central and National institutes were based; our educational institutes were the best among peers – think of the glorious days of LIT – Laxmi Narayan Institute of Technology! Think of the Government Medical College which had the biggest hospital in Asia connected to it!

    Even our foreign rulers, the British, did more for Nagpur than our government has done.

    Fight for this; fight for our growth; fight for our development…..at the very least, fight for our survival! 44 MLAs is a big number…move a proposal asking for statehood…other Vidarbha MLAs belonging to opposition will also HAVE to support. What is filing one case against Samana going to achieve? Fight for what matters!

    You have the strength – now show the will power!

    …. Sunita Mudaliar ( Associate Editor )

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