Lok Sabha Debates on the Report of the States Reorganisation Commission
July 1956 Shri. Nesamony : The Joint Committee have done a very good job in redrawing the map of India, but my complaint is that they have not adopted the same principles in the settlement of the boundaries for the various States. Particularly, I should like to say a few words about the Shencottah Taluk. This is the talukwhich is proposed to be transferred from Travancore-Cochin to Madras.
It was unfortunate that no Member of that area was included in the Joint Committee which settled the fate of the Tamil Taluks of Travancore-Cochin and consequently our case was decided ex-parte. The agreements of the Travancore-Cochin State and the Madras State were made over our heads without ourknowledge without consulting us, and most of the things became a fait accompli at the time when the Bill was put before this House by the Joint Committee. The Madras Government, probably because of the conflicting opinions about the Dakshina Pradesh and because they lost heart after the communique of the government announced on the 16th January that the taluks of Devikulam and Peermade were denied to them, were indifferent and said Yes to every thing that was proposed to them. In para 294 of their report, the S.R.C. have said, The Shencottah taluk is partly an enclave in Trinelveli district of Madras State and the percentage of Tamil-speaking people in this taluk is about 93. Physically and geographically it belongs to Tirunelveli District in which it should now merge.
I underline the words Physically and geographically it belongs to Tirunelveli district. On the 16th January, when the government issued a communique denying the rights of Devikulam and Peermade to be merged with the Madurai district and that of the portion of the Shencottah Taluk with the Tirunelveli district, the whole of Tamil Nadu protested irrespective of party affiliation. That was characterised as foolish on the floor of the House. But, the fact remains that it was an insult to the Tamils and that we suffer because the principles varied with territory and territory and with region and region. Thewords used in the communique issued on the 16th January were The Western - most portion of the Shencottah taluk lying on the west of the Western Ghats. But subsequently when the Bill was introduced here, that wording was changed and they said Puliyare Hill Pakuthy. When this Bill went before the Joint Committee, probably, there were none in that Committee who knew the geography of that place. They said well, delete excluding Puliyara Pakuthy.
They deleted this on the 2nd July. It is stated on the page 4 of the Report of the Joint Committee that the Travancore-Cochin Government has, on the 1st July, transferred a territory along the watershed line and added it on to an adjoining taluk. The Travancore- Cochin Government has sabotaged the deliberations of the Joint Committee. The Madras Government agreed to it. I do not know at whose instance it was done.
Some person might have had a brain wave and in his ingenuity he discovered that it was along the water shed line, an imaginary line. I am thankful that they did not think of longitudes and latitudes. Where is this imaginary line? It is a range of hills. Where is this line, nobody knows. What are the portions that have been transferred, nobody knows, except that the communique says that a portion of this taluk has been added on to the adjoining taluk. On the 2nd of July, the Committee sat for deliberation. This action whether of the Travancore-Cochin Government or the Central Government, is a breach of privilege of this House.
When the Joint Committee was seized of the question, there has been this readjustment of territory between the Travancore-Cochin Government and the Madras Government. I may even say that it is a contempt of this High Court or Parliament, whoever may be guilty. Note that I move that action must be taken, they should be merged with the Madras State. The S.R.C. gave their verdict physically and geographically they formed part of Tirunelveli Distirct. Where is the watershed line? The railway line from Shencottah to Trivandrum pierces through this area. There are gaps. Where is the watershed line? It is not an 302 impenetrable forest where people cannot go. It can be approached through a number of roads. Most of the approaches are from Shencottah and not from the Travancore side. What is the watershed here? They say watershed line. There is one river, a tributary of another river, which has its origin in one of the hills. It is the Achankoil River. That forms the boundary between Shencottah Taluk and Quilon Taluk. That is now considered to be the watershed line. Just for the sake of these two hill streams, to bring in the principle of watershed line is absolutely unwarranted, is most inequitable and unjust. This is the thing that must be rectified. I believe the Home Ministry would consider this matter seriously. We are all aggrieved by this. The economic life of Shencottah is bound up with these hills. Their green manure is got from here, their grazing grounds are here, their implements of husbandry are made from here and their fuel is gathered from these forests. They are denied all these privileges. They are told, you must go leaving the land. I submit this is most inequitable. This decision calls for reconsideration.
At the instance of the Central Government, the two governments have agreed that there must be a division along the watershed line. I ask in all humility, when Peermade and Devikulam have been denied to us, why not the principle of the watershed line be adopted there. If straightening the boundaries be the determining factor, why not give us Peermade and Devikulam taking into consideration, the straightening of the borders of Madurai and Coimbatore Districts? If it is a matter of economic development, why not the Periyar Basin which is a Game Sanctuary be given to the Madras State? The Central Government is aware of the scramble that is going on regarding Parambikulam. The catchment area is in the Madras State and only one of the several dams is going to be constructed in Travancore-Cochin State. All parties, the communists, the R.S.P., the K.S.P. and P.S.P. are up against the Madras Government.They say that they would not allow us to even go through the territory to survey the area. That is the attitude of Travancore-Cochin. Yet set aside all principles, the Joint Committee says so far as Shencottah is concerned, it is along the watershed line and if it is Devikulam and Peermade, it cannot be given and it must go to Travancore- Cochin State. I fail to see the wisdom of the decision.
There is another great injustice done to us in clause 4. I refer to the power given to the State Government to create districts. In the matter of Coorg, in the matter of Ajmere it is said that it shall be constituted into separate districts. In the case of the four taluks which comprise nearly 800 square miles of territory and 8.5 lakhs of poeple they are added on to Tirunelveli which is already a big district. Nobody cared to find out whether these four taluks could form one unit of administration from the point of view of law and order, communications, medical aid etc. Nobody looked into the matter because they are not in the possession of the facts. Still, this is a discrimination between one State and another, as is evident at every page of this report. If you stick to a principle, that principle must be accepted and applied to all the States and there should be no discrimination.
I endorse every word of what Shri. Frank Anthony said so far as the minorities are concerned. As our area is being proposed to be integrated with Madras according to the present distribution of States, a large majority of the Tamils have been left in the Travancore-Cochin State. It would be about 10 lakhs.
Shri. Achutan : What about the Malayalees in the four taluks?
Shri. Nesamony : I am coming to that; do not be in hurry. We will safeguard you. The same things that we claim must be given to all Malayalees. It is our bitter experience that the Malayalee government which was there did not give us freedom to educate our children in our mother tongue. Consequently, the people whose mother tongue has been Tamil have been turned into Malayalees. We fought against it. I may tell you that during the last four years the schools where Malayalam was taught are now becoming Tamil schools. There was a time when everybody was compelled to learn Malayalam because no provision was made for Tamil. When provision is made every one will take to his mother tongue, so that adequate provision has to be made in the Bill itself as Shri Frank Anthony has said. Do not leave it to the local Governor or the Zonel Council. There must be a provision in the Bill itself to guarantee the rights of the minorities so far as their education and culture are concerned.
I have appraised the Home Ministry also of a lacuna in the States Reorganisation Bill in respect of the advocates of the southern areas which are being integrated with Tirunelveli District and I have proposed an amendment to that clause. I believe that it will receive the proper attention of the Home Minister