Anantapur: Andhra Pradesh has set an example for other states in the country by removing caste-based names of residential areas and schools. Taking a cue from AP, Maharashtra is now rechristening the residential areas that were named after the caste of the people living there.

In what could be seen as a major move towards social transformation, villages and colonies with an exclusive population of Scheduled Castes (SCs) in the Anantapur district of the Rayalaseema region in Andhra Pradesh are being renamed after freedom fighters and socials activists.

The district administration in Anantapur has abolished 480 caste-based names of residential areas and renamed them.

Andhra Pradesh is probably the first state in the country to remove caste-based names of residential areas. Impressed with the Anantapur model, the Maharashtra government has also decided to follow the initiative. The Anantapur district administration has been on a mission to complete the renaming of colonies, including schools and offices.

In view of the discrimination that SC communities in many villages in the district continue to face, Anantapur district collector Gandham Chandrudu directed officials to stop using the words Dalit, Harijan, or Girijan in official communications and instead use only Schedule Castes/Scheduled Tribes to refer to persons belonging to these communities.

"We changed the names of more than 480 colonies and areas in the district soon after the directions from the ministry of social justice and empowerment. The Dalita Wada near RDT area was named RDT Colony in honour of the NGO that works for the people of the district. Anantapur now boasts of Viswarathna Nagar, Ferror Nagar, while RDT Nagar has replaces Harijana Wada," Mr. Chandrudu said.

He has also directed the district panchayat officer (DPO) to make all village panchayats pass a resolution seeking to change their names from the existing Harijanawada or Girijanawada (the prevailing trend in naming villages with a high SC population).

Over 200 SC colonies were named after Dr. B.R Ambedkar, while others were named after Chandrasekhar Azad, Netaji, Indiramma, Nehru, Gandhi, Vallabhbhai Patel, Mother Teresa, and Gautam Buddha in the district.

The collector added that titles such as Mala Palle-Madiga Palle were removed in the district. The locals have been appreciating Mr. Chandrudu's courage to end discrimination against the SCs and STs. Interestingly, the Maharashtra government has cleared a proposal to rename residential areas in the state with caste-based names and the government chose to rename localities to maintain social harmony and national unity.

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