The State Cabinet’s decision to carve out Vijayanagara district from Ballari means the latter is set to lose out on several of its iconic associations.
Most importantly, the new Ballari district will no longer be on the world map of tourism as the historic Hampi, the capital the Vijayanagara empire, will be part of the new district. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hampi, Karnataka’s crown of cultural heritage 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 Vijayanagara district. It is a loss of not just cultural image, but also tourism revenue for Ballari.
Ballari will also lose the Tungabhadra reservoir, one of the major irrigation projects and tourist destinations in the State.
Politics and mining
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. Interestingly, Minister Anand Singh, one of the key persons driving the division of the district, is a mining baron himself.
Mining activity is mainly 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.
Ballari is also set to lose in terms of its agricultural output and allied industries. Rice industries, at present concentrated in Kampli and Siruguppa taluks, are thriving on the superior Sona Masuri rice grown along the Tungabhadra irrigation belt in the district. This variety has great demand across not just India, but also different parts of the world. Now, Kampli will be part of Vijayanagara district.