Chapter - 1
Annavaram, a tribal village, which lies amidst the higher ranges of Eastern Ghats at 2000 feet above Mean Sea Level in Visakhapatnam District of Andhra Pradesh, is selected for a study of the socio-economic life of Samanthus, a hill tribe, inhabiting the village about whom very little was known in the past. This tribe generally lives amidst the rolling hills of wild nature which are isolated and inaccessible. Fig.1 shows an Investigator (of the office) approaching the village.
The village Annavaram lies on 170-46’-53” north latitude and 820-11’-38” east longitude in the Agency tract of Visakhapatnam District at a distance of about 22 miles towards north-east of Chintapalle, the Agency taluk headquarters. The village is bounded by Panasalapadu village (one mile) in the east, Regada village (3 miles) in the south, Galipadu village in the west and Somvaram village (1.1/2 miles) in the north. It is situated amidst thick forests and on the slope of a hillock to the north of Lothugadda- Gangarajumadugula- Paderu road which joins the all weather Narasipatnam-Chintapalle road at 24th mile (location map). Chintapalle is connected by a meandering ghat road with Narasipatnam, at a distance of about 30 miles in the plains area, which is not only the headquarters of a Revenue Division of its name but also an important commercial centre. Private owned motor buses ply between Narasipatnam and Chintapalle. The nearest Railway Station is Narasipatnam road which lies on the Madras-Howrah broad gauge line, and is at a distance of 18 miles from Narasipatnam town. This distance too has to be covered by a private operated transport bus. The alternative route is to travel by any bus (private operated) plying between Visakhapatnam and Narasipatnam to reach the latter. From thence one has to take a bus plying to Chintapalle and get down at 24th mile on the Narasipatnam-Chintapalle road and walk a distance of about 13 miles on Lothugadda-Gangarajumadugula-Paderu road amidst thick hill ranges to reach this village.
Medical, administrative and other facilities
The nearest Government Hospital, Veterinary Hospital, Police Station, Taluk Office and Offices of the Agricultural Demonstrator and of Post and Telegraph are located at Chintapalle at a distance of about 22 miles from the village as already stated. One elementary school has been recently started in the village by the Chintapalle Panchayat Samithi. A Government Middle School with an attached hostel for the tribal children to prosecute further studies is located at Chintapalle. A dairy farm run by the Animal Husbandry Department of the State Government to breed suitable pedigree animals and poultry (livestock suitable to the agency area) in order to supply them to tribals at a minimum cost is also at Chintapalle. The Panchayat Samithi Block is also located here to implement the Community Development Programme in this Agency area. Chintapalle, the taluk headquarters, is thus the key centre of several Agency developmental activities.
An Inspection Bungalow (P.W.D.) and a Rest House of the Revenue Department are at Chintapalle where a brief stay is possible on prior reservation. The weekly shandy on Wednesday at Chintapalle is the biggest tribal shandy in this hill tract.
Flora and fauna
Broadly speaking, the flora in this area mostly consists of mango, jack, tamarind, teak, nallamaddi (Terminalia tomentosa), tellamaddi (Terminalia arjuna) and a variety of other plants. Besides these huge trees, there is a thick growth of scrub jungle and dry thorny plants. The fauna contains barking deer, spotted deer, wild pig, sambhar, cheetah, bear and tiger, the last two are frequently found in this area. A number of birds including peacocks, jungle fowl are also found.
Climate and rainfall
The average annual temperature varies from 400–450F in the months of November and December to the maximum of 980-1020F in the months of April and May. The pre-monsoon showers are quite common in the months of April and May. The south-west monsoon that breaks in the month of June lasts up to September and is followed by the north-east monsoon (October to January). The average annual rainfall is 56”. Due to these heavy rains, thick foliage develops and the forest tract presents a green landscape of an enchanting and pleasing appearance to the eye. The nights are usually cool all through the year though in the winter months i.e. from October to February they are very cold. Both the mornings and evenings of December are unpleasantly chill whereas the nights are bitingly cold.
Being an unsurveyed village, the density of population could not be given. During the 1961 Census there were 38 households with a population of 215 (males 105 and females 110) living in 22 houses (table1). At the time of the survey in May, 1961 there were only 24 households with a population of 122 (males 69 and females 53) belonging to only two Scheduled Tribes viz. Samanthu and Bagata. On the whole, the average size of the household works out to 5.1 while it is 3.5 among the Bagatas and 5.4 among the Samanthus (table 3 and 37). During the consanguineous marriages survey conducted in May 1963 there were only sixteen households: Samanthu (8), Bagata (5), Gadaba (2) and Valmiki (1). This steady decline within a period of two years from February – March 1961 to May 1963 shows the migratory nature of these tribes. It is natural with the Samanthus to desert the village when the surrounding hills become infertile as they mostly depend on Kondapodu (cultivation of hill slopes). The emigration may be rightly attributed to the lack of fertile hill slopes, the only source of livelihood.
Majority of the households i.e. 15 out of 24 households or 62.5% are having four to six members. Next to it are the 7 households with 2 to3 members whereas 2 households are clustered with 7 to 9 and 10 and more persons respectively. There are no single-member households (table2).
Selection of village site, layout and residential pattern
The tribals generally select an open site, sufficient both for habitation and cultivation in a valley or at the foot of a hill. The Samanthus, in particular, settle at the foot of a hill where extensive kondapodu (cultivation of hill slopes) is possible to enable them to eke out their livelihood. A perennial water source at a commendable distance is another factor in the choice of a site for settlement as their women generally take bath in such places. The dwellings are, however, constructed a little away from the water source, for fear of wild animals frequenting the spot. The Bagatas abandon the village site and rebuild their houses in another place, should an epidemic break out or many deaths occur while the Samanthus leave the village site if the surrounding mountains become infertile.
The two tribes inhabiting the village have separate settlements. All the Samanthu households have occupied the eastern part of the village. The Bagatas are living a little away from the households of the Samanthus who are considered locally backward as they eat beef, pork and dead animals. The Bagata households are located to the west of the Samanthu habitation area. One Valmiki household has settled recently close to the habitation area of the Bagatas whereas the two Gadaba households are living amidst the Samanthus. The Bagata houses are independent structures. The Samanthus construct unbroken linear type of houses. There are no planned village streets. An approach road connecting Lothugadda – Gangarajumadugula - Paderu road is recently laid to this village.
Sankudemudu who is worshipped separately by the Samanthus and the Bagatas is symbolized in two conical shaped stones one located under a mango tree and another under jeeluga tree respectively.
The crematoria of the Bagatas and the Samanthus lie on the northern side of the village on either side of a big hill stream locally known as Peddagadda.
Sources of water supply
The Peddagadda flows from east to west at a little distance on the northern side of the village. There are two other small streams near this village which flow from south-east and join the Peddagadda in the north. The Peddagadda is the main source of water supply for all purpose throughout the year (fig2). A drinking water well is constructed in the west of the village, near the Bagata habitation area, by the Panchayat Samithi Block, Chintapalle.
The Panchayat Samithi primary school located in the village provides educational facilities up to V Class.
Annavaram village along with five other villages namely Somavaram, Vantharapadu, Panasalapadu, Veduripalle and Joharu was constituted into the Annavaram Panchayat. The age old local Muttadari system continues to administer the civil life though the statutory Panchayats are functioning.
The tribals attend weekly shandy on Wednesdays at Chintapalle and Lambasingi on Mondays both for the sale of minor forest produce and purchase of the domestic requirements. Besides they are also purchase their domestic requirements from the sales depot of Andhra Scheduled Tribes Co-operative Finance and Development Corporation located at Lothugadda.
History of the village
The tribals could neither give the etymological meaning of the village name nor could say anything about the history of the village.
One Sri Velecheru Lashmayya, the grandfather of Sri Velecheru Balanna, the present village Munsif belonging to Bagata tribe, was considered to be the first settler in this village. Late Velecheru Lashmayya took permission from the then Muttadar of Lothugadda, the grandfather of Sri Thaggi Valisayya Dora, the present Muttadar and settled in Panasalapadu village. As the village was later on affected by cholera he left for Kommangi in Peddavalasa Mutha where he lost all the cattle. Considering this as inauspicious, late Lashmayya with the permission of the then Muttadar of Lothugadda constructed a house to the west of Panasalapadu village where the present village grew up and he named it as Annavaram.
Among the Samanthus the first settlers are Sri Vanthala Ramanna, the present Pettandar of the village and late Sri Korra Gurubuddadu the son of late Sri Korra Gurubuddadu. The son of late Sri Korra Gurubuddadu migrated after marriage to his father-in-law’s place to eke out his livelihood. Hence there is no representation of Korra family among the Samanthus in this village.
Late Sri Vanthala Ramayya, father of Sri Vanthala Ramanna, came to Kotagunna village of Lothugadda Mutha from Nandapur in Orissa State to eke out his livelihood along with his father and brother. As late Sri Vanthala Ramayya lost both his father and brother a few years later, he feared that he might also die if he continued to live in Kotagunna village and, therefore, migrated to this village thirty years back. As years rolled on, all his relatives also migrated to this village to eke out their livelihood and thereby the Samanthus became the predominant residents of this village. The Bagatas are the first settlers of this village and the Samanthus joined much later.
Table 31 throws light on the settlement history of the village. Nineteen out of 24 households are of the present generation while 2 Bagata households have been residing since 4 to 5 generations, one household each of the Samanthu and the Bagata has reported to have been staying here between 2 and 3 generations and one could not specify the period of stay. It is thus clear from table 32 that the first settlers of this village are the Bagatas who are reported to have been residing since 4 to 5 generations.
As regards the places from which these 24 households immigrated, 15 samanthu households have come from outside the taluk but within the same district and 2 households each of the Samanthu and the Bagata have immigrated from the neighboring villages of the same taluk but 5 households could not specify the places wherefrom their forefathers had immigrated.