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Anantapur: Following rains, farmers engage in hunt for precious stones

Women in Gooty mandal engaged in search for precious stones
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Women in Gooty mandal engaged in search for precious stones

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Apart from locals, several enthusiasts from districts like Kadapa and Prakasam districts of AP and Bellary of Karnataka also test their luck by going on diamond hunt. At any given moment during the day, one can find about 100 odd farmers in groups searching for the precious stones

Anantapur: Going on for diamonds' or precious stones hunt every year during June to November is an annual feature in the district. Several farmers leaving their agriculture operations are determined to become rich overnight. The activity also poses law and order problems as money exchange is involved in it.

Farmers and other sections of people erect make-shift tents at Jonnagiri, Tuggali, Maddikera, Pagidirai, Peravali, Mahanandi and Mahadevapuram, which are popular for precious stones in the district. The precious stones will become visible after rains wash away several layers of the earth. Due to monsoon, rains have forced laborers, farmers to leave their homes on diamond hunt in several places of Anantapur and Kurnool district border.

Recently, an agricultural labourer was able to find a diamond worth Rs 3 lakh at Gooty Railway station and another found a diamond worth Rs 2 lakh at Peravali four days ago, while people of nearby villages found precious stones worth Rs 6 lakh three days ago. But they are disappointed as the government officials snatch away their booty, under the Treasure Trove Act.

Farmers Prasad and Venkataramana from Narasaraopet of Guntur district, after reading media reports, landed at Jonnagiri and Yerragudi villages in Gooty mandal for the diamonds hunt. They opined that the government should ignore the precious stone hunt operations as they are mere semi-precious stones with no real commercial value. If the diamonds benefit the poor why should the government intervene, they ask.

Apart from locals, several enthusiasts from districts like Kadapa and Prakasam districts of AP and Bellary of Karnataka also test their luck by going on diamond hunt. At any given moment during the day, one can find about 100 odd farmers in groups searching for the precious stones.

A team of scientists from the US and Australia representing some foreign firms, conducted excavations in these areas as part of their exploration some years ago in Maddikera, Jonnagiri, Peravali, Basinipalle, Madanahantha and Hampa villages but gave up after a few years of excavation.

Gooty Tahsildar Bramhaiah told The Hans India that it is a fact that farmers leaving their agriculture operations are going for precious stones hunt. He revealed that he had inquired into the media reports and zeroed in on farmers who found the diamonds and seized the diamonds from them. He said that as per the Treasure Trove act of the 1850 British era act, every treasure found anywhere is the property of the state.

Some firms gave up exploration as the quality of diamonds are not financially or commercially viable for exploration. Sources say that the diamonds found in the villages have no commercial value as such they are called semi-precious stones.

According to the villagers of Peravali and Jonnagiri, local merchants and middlemen sell the precious stones procured from villagers to big traders in Gooty of Anantapur district at a high price.

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