Cheruvu constructed by Salakam Thimmnna in 14 thcentury, he was brother in law (wife brother)of HARIHARA & BUKKA RAYALU ( Vijayanagaraemperors). Salkam Thimmanna founder of SalaamCheruvu , Salkam is sir name of Thimmanna.
The fields are located on both low slopesof hills and on the flat ground below. As aresult a lot of stones roll down into thefields. The soils are red and only abouttwo to three feet deep. These soils havelittle humus or nutrients, have littlecapacity to howls water, and lack sufficientdepth for roots to grow and spread. As aresult, many fields need to be left fallow oruncultivated for some years after a crop.
Only small stretches of flat landshave deeper and finer soils.However such lands have gotdegraded and become uncultivable‘ Soudu’ soils. Soudu soils havehigh content of lime and salts andwill not absorb water. These soilsare not suitable for all the crops.
Climate and rainfallThese rainy season is from June to November.However it rains very little in these parts. This rainfallis also very unreliable as it may or may not rainproperly in a particular year. Drought is a recurringphenomena. Consequently, there will be years whenthere is not enough water to grow any crop or evenfor drinking. Thus when farmers sow a crop, it maynot rain at all and the crop may dry up. In view of itslow and erratic rainfall, this part of this state is called‘drought-prone’
Water resourcesWith the rains being so less and unreliablethe people of this region have to storerainwater and use ground water. There areno streams or canals near Salakamcheruvu.
a. TanksFrom the early days the people of this region have excavatedtanks to store the rain water and the eater flowing down theseasonal streams. Plateaus are particularly suited for buildingsuch tanks because of natural depressions in the landscapeand the existence of small hills. You have see atSalamcheruvu how the water from the surrounding hillscome down and how a small wall built across a small streamby joining two hills can create a large water reservoir. Thereare thousands of such tanks in Anantapur district itself.Besides large tanks, there are also a few small ponds (Kuntas)built to provide derinking water to animals of the village.
In earlier times the village peopletogether took care to repair the tanks,keep the area from where the watercame to the tank clean and proper, andregulate the use of the tank water.This has declined rapidly in the lastthirty years. As a result the tanks likesalakam Cheuruvu have become dry
b. Wells and Bore wellsWhile tanks store the rain water that flow on thesurface of the land, wells help us to use the water thatseeps down beneath the soil. It is very difficult to digwells in the plateau because of rocks underneath.Even after the rocks are broken, and the well isdug, there may be little or no water. Due to lowrainfall, the underground water level is very deep.Once the water in the well is used for irrigation in thefields, it takes at least two days for the water to bereplenished in the well
In recent years one wells are not used for irrigation and thefarmers instead depend upon bore wells. You have readabout such wells in the plains village. However, it is veryexpensive to dig bore wells in the plateau. In Salakamcheruvuwater is found below 250 feet. Farmers have been spendinghuge amounts of money in the hope of finding good source ofwater. They dig deeper and deeper every year up to athousand feet or more. Farmers dig several bores to see whois lucky. Very few farmers can afford to invest so muchmoney. Only 5 – 10 farmers who have more land have borewells. The rest of the farmers depend on rainfall only. Whilethe bore wells are on the increase, the cheruvus and tankshave been getting dry due to poor maintenance. The tanksare used by all people and animals of the village while thebores are used by one or two farmers only.
The farmers of Salkamcheruvu grow only onecrop in the Kharif or monsoon season. Earlierfarmers mainly grew food crops – millets (likeRagi, Sama, Varagu, krra, Sorghum, etc.) pulsesand a little paddy. Millets need very little waterand can also grow on poor soils. The paddycrop is cultivated using the water from thevillage tank. Besides these food crops thefarmers also grew some cotton and ground nutwhich they sold in the market.
During the last twenty or thirty years there has been asignificant change in the crops – farmers have reduced thesowing of millets and other food crops and instead arecultivating mainly ground nuts or chillies. Sometimes cropslike sorghum, red gram and maize are sown between theground nut fields.
Generally it rains in the months of Juneand July for 10 days ( ).Then they sow seeds for groundnut.Rains in the Month of June and July
If the onset of rains is late, thatis in August they grow maizeand red-gram.
If it rains again in October and November thegroundnut crop will be healthy. Otherwise thegroundnut harvest will suffer.
Adi Narayana Reddy cultivated groundnut in his 5acres of land. With no irrigation facility and lack ofrainfall his groundnut crop has dried up. He isworried as the harvest of the ground nut crop fromthe field will cost him more than the income he willget by selling them. So he thinks it is better to leavethe crop as fodder for animals. When we went to thevillage, most farmers had lost their crop. Thegovernment has declared the Mandal as ‘drought hit’.Adi Narayana Reddy said that they were waiting forthe Government relief. Some farmers who have borewells managed to save their crop and were sellingthem in the market. J. J
OrchardsLooking at the water problem somefarmers are planting orchards ofsapota, sweet lime etc., theseorchards require water only duringsome seasons and give regularreturns every year.
MarketWhere do the farmers sell their produce?Adinarayana Reddy told us that the entiremarket is controlled by the buyers. Usuallythere are agents who come to the field and buythe produce from the farmers. The agents fixthe price for the produce when the crop is inthe field itself. Some farmers take their produceto town by tractors or by bullock carts. They getbetter price than those who well at their fields.
Other sources of livelihoodAs we saw above, agriculture is quiteunpredictable in this village. Some timessmall farmers and agricultural workers goto other villages which have betterirrigation facilities in search of work.Farmers also resort to some other meansof livelihood.
Animal herdingIn Salakamchervu, some people rearbuffaloes and cows for milk.
CharcoalJayaram and his two friends earn some money by ‘CoalBattries (kilns)’. First they collect wood from the trees likesarkaru tumma from the common land, fields and hills andplace them in a heap. They cover the logs with grass and mudand then lit the pile. The logs will turn into charcoal. They sellthis coal to factories. The total work takes nearly twomonths. 5 to 6 families in the village depend on sheep forlivelihood. Narayana Swamy has seventy sheep. Sheep givebirth to lambs twice a year which are sold after a few months.Sheep are taken to the hills for grazing. Sheep eat leaves ofChigara tree which grow beside the roads.
Cement bricks Nagaraju has a small cement brickfactory. About 10 people are employed for4 months in a ear. Nearly ten thousandbricks are made at one time. It takes twomonths to make the bricks and about fourmonths to sell them.
Is Land use in Salakamcheruvu ‘Sustainable’? Environmentalists believe that we need to plan theuse of our lands in such a way that they remainproductive for generations to come. For this we need to practice sustainable land use. This requires that the soil fertility bemaintained, the ground water remainsrecharged, there be a proper balance betweenforests, pastures and agricultural land etc. do you think the land use of Salakamcheruvu issustainable? What changes need to be brought in tomake it sustainable?
In the olden days the people ofSalakamcheruvu depended on thewells for drinking water. Now-a-days drinking water is suppliedthrough an over tank which drawsits water from a bore pump. Wateris supplied through taps once inevery two days.
Roads and MarketsThere is a small village market selling localvegetables, general items, etc. the village isconnected by kutcha road with the main roadfrom Anantapur to Tadipatri. People go to thesetowns for buying necessary items.