Bengaluru: With the Karnataka cabinet formalising the formation of the 31st district - Vijayanagara - carving it out from the existing Ballary district, the latter is set to lose several prestigious symbols associated with the district since 1953.
Most importantly, the new Ballary district will no longer be on the world map of tourism as the UNESCO World Heritage site Hampi, the capital of the Vijayanagara empire, will be part of Vijaynagara, the new district.
The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hampi, Karnataka's signature cultural heritage site situated on the bank of river Tungabhadra that attracts thousands of history and culture enthusiasts from across the globe every year, will soon be part of Vijayanagara district.
Besides Hampi, Ballary will also lose the Tungabhadra reservoir, one of the major irrigation projects and tourist destinations in the state. Ballary will also lose many prominent educational institutions, as Hospet has long been an education hub not only for the undivided district but also neighbouring districts like Koppal and part of Raichuru districts.
Hampi Kannada university, history department head, N Chinnaswamy Sosale said that the bifurcation of big districts was in a way a very good decision as it helps many administratively. "For a person living in Hagari Bommanahalli it was too cumbersome to even get his simple government certificates. It would have taken a day long as it was more than 120 kms away district headquarters (Ballary) but the new district will help him to reach Hospet in just two hours," he said.
According to him, bifurcation of anything brings sadness too. "Ballary will not lose out much except the Hampi, rest of the things will remain the same. Even earlier too, those who were well off were sending their wards to schools in Hospet and that won't change much," he said.
The Kalyana Karnataka Horata Samiti President Hirigeri Pannaraj said that Ballary district has its own rich history of fighting for the united Karnataka movement in 1953. "It is the people of Ballary who ignited the spark of uniting Karnataka under the unification of Karnataka movement. Since then, all 11 taluks had remained intact with the district. Ballary is not just a place it is historic. Despite the best efforts by then undivided Andhra Pradesh, Ballary people steadfastly fought and remained with Karnataka. Certainly people of Ballary did not expect this," he rued.
He added that more than losing anything, it is like losing half part of our body.
In terms of politics and mining, which were the biggest mainstay of the district, a senior leader from the BJP observed that this decision marks the downfall of the powerful Reddy brothers.
"They wielded iron grip control on state affairs between 2008-13, when the BJP came to power with an emotional campaign led by Yediyurappa but it was largely funded by Reddy brothers. Illegal mining cases took sheen out of Reddy brothers and now bifurcation of their own home turf indicates that their control over the district as well as in the state affairs is weakened," the source explained.
The old district will no longer have a large chunk of the mining area. For reasons good and bad, mining, especially iron ore mining, has been a part and parcel of Ballari district.
It has played an important role in the State's politics too, transforming the very nature of Karnataka's political landscape on more than one occasion.
As far as the mining activity is concerned it is concentrated almost equally in Sandur and Hosapete taluks, and the latter will now be part of Vijayanagara district.
Except for JSW, one of India's steel giants located in Toranagallu, near Ballari, all the other major mining-related industries such as BMM Ispat Ltd. and Sandur Manganese and Iron Ore Ltd. (SMIORE) will now be part of Vijayanagara district.
Even the rice belt is equally divided between Vijaynagar and Ballari as rice industries, at present concentrated in Kampli and Siruguppa taluks, are thriving on the superior Sona Masuri rice grown along the Tungabhadra irrigation belt will be part of Ballary district.