The National Turmeric Board — a long-pending demand of the people of Northern Telangana — is all set to materialise.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday, 1 October, announced the setting up of a Turmeric Board in the state, during his address in the Mahabubnagar district.
Turmeric, which is cultivated in large quantities in the northern districts of Nizamabad, Jagtial and Nirmal, makes up around one-fourth of the total production of the spice in the country.
Meanwhile, the strategic announcement by Modi is also expected to deliver electoral dividends for the BJP in the year-end Telangana Assembly elections, and the 2024 Lok Sabha polls.
Speaking at the public meeting, Modi said the BJP was committed to improving the lives of the people of Telangana.
“Telangana wants change, because it wants a BJP government here,” Modi said, adding that the state wants a change because it does not want a corrupt government, but a transparent and honest one.
The “Nari Shakti Vandan Adhiniyam” — the Women’s Reservation Bill — had been passed recently and now the voice of women would be strengthened more than before, not only in Parliament but in every state Assembly, the prime minister told the cheering crowd.
Long pending demand of farmers
According to Lok Sabha data in 2021, Telangana produces 386.596 tonnes — the highest in the country — of turmeric every year, in 55.444 hectares of land.
Turmeric farmers, who are facing severe stress, have been demanding a board on the lines of the tobacco board. Farmers say a dedicated board would help in extension and marketing activities.
They are demanding as the farmers have no access to scientific input or extension support and they depend on the local seeds and varieties.
As most of the farmers are small and marginal with very small landholdings, they cannot afford any scientific management of their fields and crops.
During the meeting, he also virtually laid the foundation stone for several infrastructure projects and inaugurated others, in total worth more than ₹13,500 crore.
Modi is expected to participate in another rally in Nizamabad on 3 October.
The politics behind it
During the 2019 Lok Sabha election, hundreds of farmers in the Nizamabad constituency contested as independent candidates as a sign of protest against BRS (then TRS) leader K Kavitha as she did not bring the Turmeric Board to the constituency.
In March 2019, the current Nizamabad MP Arvind Dharmapuri — the BJP candidate who defeated Kavitha in the aforementioned election — signed a written pledge with a non-judicial stamp pledging to get the board sanctioned by the Centre.
His associates distributed copies of the pledge throughout the turmeric-growing regions of Nizamabad. Senior BJP leaders including Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and Ram Madhav, also supported the pledge.
However, as recently as March 2023, the ministers in their various replies in the Lok Sabha had denied setting up any turmeric board in Nizamabad.
The argument was that since the Ministry of Commerce had established a regional office of the Spice Board in Nizamabad, it would serve the needs of turmeric farmers.
Now, with the announcement by the prime minister ahead of his visit to Nizamabad, the dreams of turmeric farmers have been realised.
Several development projects announced
The prime minister laid the foundation stone for several developmental projects and inaugurated other finished structures, which add up to more than ₹13,500 crore via videoconferencing in the Mahabubnagar district.
In addition, the Union government is establishing a Central Tribal University in Mulugu district of Telangana at a cost of ₹900 crore, which would be named Samakka Sarakka Central Tribal University, the prime minister said after launching the projects.
This is also a long pending demand of the Telangana government.
The prime minister laid the foundation stone for key road projects that are part of the Nagpur-Vijayawada Economic Corridor, including the 108 km long four-lane access-controlled greenfield highway from Warangal to Khammam section of NH-163G and the 90 km-long four-lane access-controlled greenfield highway from Khammam to Vijayawada section of NH-163G.
These roads will be built at a total cost of about ₹6,400 crore, said a release.
Modi also inaugurated the newly four-laned 59 km long Suryapet to Khammam section of NH-365BB. Built at a cost of about ₹2,460 crore, it is a part of the Hyderabad-Visakhapatnam Corridor and is developed under the Bharatmala Pariyojana.
The Jaklair-Krishna railway line
He also inaugurated a 37-km section of the Jaklair Krishna New Railway Line. Built at a cost of over ₹500 crore, the new rail line section brings areas of the backward district of Narayanpet for the first time onto the Railway map.
The Hassan-Cherlapalli LPG Pipeline Project, which is built at a cost of about ₹2,170 crore was also inaugurated on Sunday. The LPG pipeline, from Hassan in Karnataka to Cherlapalli (a suburb of Hyderabad), provides a safe, cost-efficient, and eco-friendly mode of LPG transportation and distribution in the region.
Additionally, Modi laid the foundation stone for the multi-product petroleum pipeline of Bharat Petroleum Corporation Ltd (BPCL) from Krishnapatnam to Hyderabad (Malkapur). The 425-kilometre pipeline will be built at a cost of ₹1,940 crore.
Among the new structures inaugurated were five new buildings of Hyderabad University — School of Economics; School of Mathematics & Statistics; School of Management Studies; Lecture Hall Complex III; and Sarojini Naidu School of Arts & Communication (Annexe).
The PM also flagged off the Hyderabad (Kacheguda)-Raichur-Hyderabad (Kacheguda) train service from Krishna station via video conferencing. The train service will connect Hyderabad, Rangareddy, Mahabubnagar, and Narayanpet districts in Telangana with Raichur district in Karnataka.