O P N I O N
-Kuradi Chandraseakhara Kalkura
Few crocodile tears would have been shed when the fasting President of the YSRCP and the Leader of the Opposition in the A.P.Legislative Assembly was taken into custody, admitted in the Guntur General Hospital, discharged after a thorough medical examination and safely landed in Lotus Pond, his sweet home. It is well known that his demand is Special Category state (SCS)Status for A.P. Almost all the major political parties are demanding the same. Each party has its own strategy and plan of action. But none of them are prepared to accept certain realities. A Justifiable undercurrent in Rayalaseema, grave injustice that is being done to the region, is not addressed by any one. Both the Srikrishna Commission and the Sivaramakrishnan Committee have categorically stated the backwardness of the region and stressed the need to develop it on par with other regions. The neglect is being almost perpetuated with impunity. The promised institutions and the development are being allotted to other places.
Most of the Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh, including the present one Chandrababu Naidu have been from Rayalaseema. At present, except Hari Babu of BJP (Visakhapatnam), the Presidents of all the major political parties are from Rayalaseema; Madhu of CPM from Nellore, considered part of the Greater Rayalaseema. But none of them raise their voice in favor of their region. They fear losing the ground in other regions. Let me go a flashback in A.P politics.
Prakasam Pantulu, in 1953 roared and selected Kurnool as the Capital of the newly formed Andhra State. NT Rama Rao vowed to have the Telugu University at Srisailam; foiled by the later Governments. In 1971 the Congress (Ruling) led by Indira Gandhi swept the elections in the whole country. Dr. Chenna Reddy attracted the national attention when he formed Telangana Praja Samithi, demanding separate Telangana in 1970 and won ten and lost only four seats in Telangana region in 1971 General Elections to the Lok Sabha. (Nizamabad, Adilabad and Khammam to Congress and Miryalaguda to CPM). Tables were turned against her in the 1977 General Elections as she was unseated from the Prime Ministership; losing her strong hold Rae Bareli to Raj Narain. A Shrewd Ms. Gandhi invited Chenna Reddy to head the Congress in the general elections to the State Legislature in 1978. Dr Reddy became the Chief Minister of the United A.P. Dr.Rajasekhar Reddy led the Rayalaseema agitation from 1985-89 to focus his leadership capacity. He had to wait for nearly two decades to occupy the aspired Chief Ministership of A.P.
No political party is raising the Rayalaseema issues. Agitations for Special Status for A.P. is not the solution for Rayalaseema problems. They deserve to be addressed separately. In case “Special Status’ is granted to the A.P. where is the guarantee that it will be decentralised? Will there be no step motherly treatments? In all probabilities all the benefits under the Special Status will be knocked off by the Coastal Andhra only. Unless a special package, with Constitutional guarantee, inlcuding water is awarded to Rayalaseema there is bound to be a Telangana type of agitation, for a separate Rayalaseema State sooner than later. The simmering discontent will reach the boiling point and an agitation is imminent.
The crux of the problem of Rayalaseema is water. The water share of the region is around 20% and if all the pending projects are completed, it will not cross 50%. Whereas for North Coastal Andhra it is 50% at present and 80% projected. There is a ray of hope from the most unexpected quarters. In a surprise move, BJP, MLC from A.P. Some Veerraju hit out at the TDP Government accusing if of misleading the people and the Centre on Ploavaram and Pattiseema. He also advised the YSRCP to question the TDP why the Government had failed to supply even drinking water to the Rayalaseema region and asked its chief Jaganmohan Reddy to stop blaming the centre unnecessarily. The issue, water is a pertinent one for it is the crux of the probelm that Rayalaseema is facing. The much hyped Pattiseema is a fraud on Rayalaseema. Though the project was inaugurated with much fan fare, even nearly a month after it has not yielded the desired results. Apart from the faulty commissioning of the Project, because of some other administrative and technical hurdles Rayalaseema is not in a position to get the projected benefits.
If Rayalaseema is to get the announced benefits, it must get the ‘Assured water’ and ‘not the surplus water.’ At the same time the declared storage level at Srisailam to flow down shall be raised from 850 Ft. and revised as per the original design at 854 ft. For all the beneficiary canals of Rayalaseema, K.C., SRBC, Telugu Ganga, Handri – Nivva, and Galeru – Nagari, water is discharged through Pothireddypadu Head Regulator of the Srisailam Dam. Forcefully defending the proposal to increase its discharging capacity, on the floor of the Assembly on 6th Oct.2005, the strong man of Rayalaseema, Dr. Rajasekhar Reddy, the then Chief Minister said: “The neglect of irrigation projects by the previous regime was giving scope for separatist tendencies and asserted that his Government would spend Rs.46,000 crores in the coming years and complete all pending projects”. The same charge is being leveled by the present Government against the previous one. In the political name game mutual accusations have not brought any concrete results.
Why the son, Jagan, claiming his father’s legacy is silent about the issue. It is Rayalaseema, particularly, Kadapa and Kurnool Districts those gave him the political life. It nursed him; rared him. groomed him and nurtured him. He is fearing apathy from Coastal Andhra. He is not accepted there and will be rejected in Rayalaseema. It is being discussed that Babu is neglecting Rayalaseema; diverting all the benefits announced to these districts to other districts in the State. Even though its capacity to discharge is increased declared storage level to flow down is not increased. It remains at 850 ft. Whereas the water is discharged through the Regulator only at 854 Ft. Rayalaseema will get the benefit only when the storage level is increased to the optimum level. If there is early monsoon and seasonal rain there is possibility that the water can be released in time for the Karif Season. If there is shortage of rain in the catchment area, even drinking water cannot be discharged till the outflow level is raised to 854 ft. This season Karif season is lost in Rayalaseema. Though there is enough water in Nagarjunasagar for drinking purposes, 7 Tmcf is released from Srisailam with that pretext.