Pothana Open Air Theatre in a shambles

Pothana Open Air Theatre in a shambles
Highlights

The Open Air Theatre named after great Telugu poet Bammera Pothana in Warangal is one such stage, which saw the likes of Carnatic vocalist Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna, poet Dasarathi Krishnamacharyulu and Perini Shivatandavam dance form resurrect Nataraja Ramakrishna, is now in shambles and had virtually turned into a dump yard.

Warangal: The Open Air Theatre named after great Telugu poet Bammera Pothana in Warangal is one such stage, which saw the likes of Carnatic vocalist Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna, poet Dasarathi Krishnamacharyulu and Perini Shivatandavam dance form resurrect Nataraja Ramakrishna, is now in shambles and had virtually turned into a dump yard.

Surprisingly, this prestigious theatre, which was inaugurated by the then Technical Education Minister T Hayagreeva Chary on March 12, 1982 is in an abandoned state for over a decade now due to a legal tangle between the Pothana Vignana Peetham Trust and the Greater Warangal Municipal Corporation (GWMC).

The man behind the open air theatre was the then External Affairs Minister PV Narasimha Rao. He wanted the Panchasati Utsavams of Bammera Pothana (1450 - 1510) to be grandeur. The Pothana Vignana Peetham Trust that came into existence at that point of time constructed the open air theatre in a piece of land provided by the municipality with funds from the Centre, State governments and the philanthropists.

The Trust then organised a five-day Panchasati Utsavams on a grand note here to which the former Vice-President Mohammad Hidayatullah was the chief guest. Greats in their own right like Mangalampalli Balamuralikrishna, Dasarathi and Nataraja Ramakrishna and Sankarabharanam movie fame JV Somayajulu were among a host of other distinguished personalities who witnessed the Utsavams.

The trouble started some 15 years ago when the Municipal authorities wanted to take possession of the facility under the pretext that land belongs to it. Moreover, the authorities contended that another piece of land adjacent to the open air theatre was already given to the Pothana Vignana Peetham Trust and on which the latter had constructed a building, hence they wanted to take back the land.

Since then both the parties are embattled in a land dispute in court. As a result, there is no one to look after the theatre which is on the verge of ruins and had become host for stray dogs and pigs. This apart, the GWMC is dumping municipal waste in the vacant area of the theatre.

Strangely, the district collector is the permanent honorary president of the Trust with Mayor, Municipal Commissioner and the Zilla Parishad chairperson as other members. When contacted, the Trust secretary Namilikonda Balakishan Rao told The Hans India: “The theatre is in ruins and the GWMC had turned it into a dump yard. When we wanted to run it, the GWMC demanded Rs 50 lakh which the Trust cannot afford.”

Former secretary of the Trust Prof. Kovela Suprasanna Acharya said: “Without political backup, it’s hard to set things in right order.” Mayor Nannapuneni Narender said: “Definitely, the newly-elected civic body will look into the issue and an appropriate action will be taken.”

When asked about dumping of municipal waste in the open air theatre premises, he said that administration has identified 20 dump yard sites and the issue will be solved very soon. Pointing out the stink emanated by the dump yard, Rajesh, a resident of Pothana Nagar, said that how can the administration let this happen at the heart of the city especially it is a hub of all art and cultural activities.

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