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Purandeswari asks Naidu to stop acquiring farm lands

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On the day Nara family’s take-over of Telugu Desam party from NTR family was complete with the elevation of Lokesh to the rank of general secretary of the party, NTR’s daughter D Purandeswari upped the ante against the TDP government. Purandewari, who is also BJP Mahila Morach in -charge, announced her opposition to the acquisition of fertile agricultural lands for setting up industries during her visit to in Pedana, Krishna district yesterday.

In no uncertain terms, the scion of NTR , who distanced Naidu’s TDP politics 15 years back, said taking the fertile lands in Machilipatnam (Bandar) area for the development of deep water port and associated industrial corridor was unfair. Pedana also falls in the danger zone of Naidu grandiose plan of Bandar Port development plan. Expressing surprise at the huge land bank being created by the state government with farm lands, she also, demanded Telugu Desam government to release a white paper on the lands acquired so far, plans to acquire more land in future along the with their fertile strength.

On Wednesday, local BJP of Pedana, organized a program to felicitate her on her visit to the town of Kalankari art. Many farmers met her and poured over their woes before her. She said she was especially opposed to the state government’s move to acquire thousands of acres of fertile land for the proposed Machilipatnam deep-sea port and port-based industries. Purandeswari, who was HRD minister in pervious UPA government, said she would soon meet farmers, who were facing the threat of eviction due to the proposed land acquisition in Machilipatnam and Pedana mandals in Krishna district.

She demanded that the government could acquire barren land to create a land bank.

The senior BJP leader demanded a white paper be released giving a clear picture on how much land acquired and how it would utilize the land acquired by it. She opined that if acquisition of agriculture lands continued, it would affect the food security in future, in view of the population of the growth of the country.

This is the second the BJP tried to embarrass the its ally TDP in the state in the past ten days. Last week, after a visit to Polavarm project, BJP Andhra Pradesh president K Haribabu said not a pie had been spent on the polavarm project by TDP government. ” TDP asking centre to reimburse Rs 1900 crore spent on Polavarm project, is unfair, as there was no physical progress on the project. Government should demonstrate its commitment to the complete the Polavaram project with the same commitment which it showed on Pattiseema project,” Haraibabu said.

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Centers’s meager package has Naidu’s approval?

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Centre’s meager special assistance to Andhra Pradesh started stirring up resentment among the intellectuals of Andhra Pradesh. First to react was former union power secretary and environmentalist EAS Sarma from Vizag. Sarma expressed strong displeasure at the centre’s meager special assistance and described this as highly discriminatory. In this back drop chief minister Naidu’s extravagant capital construction along with Pattiseema project would only rob the backward regions of Rayalaseema and North Coastal Andhra of their legitimate share of funds, he said. Cautioning Naidu of serious political repercussions, Sarma today dashed off a letter to CM Naidu and asked him stop his Guntur-Krishna centric programs. He was especially unhappy with quantum of funds allocated for the development of backward regions of North Coastal AP and Rayalaseema.

“The allocation of Rs 350 cr for seven districts indicative of grave injustice being meted out to the people of these region,” he said. “The State government has already diverted a huge chunk of the budgetary resources to the tune of Rs 1500 crore for constructing the Pattiseema Lift Irrigation Project that will once again benefit the farmers of Krishna District at the cost of the other regions. Similarly, the huge and extravagant expenditure that is being incurred on the capital city project has already dented the budget at the expense of the people of north AP and Rayalaseema and the latest announcement by the Centre has further accentuated the bias against the two regions,” he wrote in the letter.

He said the state government under Naidu’s leadership had assumed the role of diverting resources from north AP and Rayalaseema to the Krishna-Guntur region in a highly questionable manner. The way your government has been syphoning off funds from north AP and Rayalaseema is not only detrimental from the point of view of regional equity but also from the point of view of spending adequate funds on crucial secttors such as health, education, social welfare, especially the welfare of the SCs/ STs/ OBCs. As a result of the extravagant expenditure incurred on the capital city project, the State treasury has been under an intense stress and several welfare schemes stand starved of funds,” he said. Stating that the centre had decided this pattern of allocation of funds after many meetings with chief minister Naidu in the past two days, the bureaucrat said this might have Naidu’s concurrence.

Describing the capital city project as a millstone around the neck of the people of AP.

“There is a proposal now to divert Krishna water to feed the capital city, involving a huge expenditure. There are reports that additional expenditure will have to be incurred on raising the level of some parts of the project area to prevent flooding. In all these matters, the public has been kept in the dark,” Sarma added.

He cautioned chief minister that state government was rushing into acts of regional discrimination and would not augur well for the future. He referred to the great deal of dissatisfaction being created among the people of north AP and Rayalaseema, who can no longer acquiesce.

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Andhra Pradesh plans pilgrimages to Pattiseema

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While opposition parties call the state government’s Godavari-Krishna linking as fraud and can’t be called interlinking of rivers at any stretch of imagination, chief minister Chandrababau Naidu is planning to convert the Pattiseema Project into a pilgrim centre. Pattiseema, according to Naidu, has made the linking of what he calls mighty rivers of South India Godavari and Krishna possible. He boasted this even  to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong yesterday. According to sources in the government, Naidu is planning to take a bus load of farmers from each district to Pattiseema Lift and Polavaram righ branch canal. And the government has earmarked Rs 50 lakh for each district for the purpose of Pattiseema Pilgrimage and associated awareness creation.

Naidu’s objective is to burn the idea of interlinking of Godavari-Krishan into the minds of people of Andhra Pradesh, as  a greatest feat, achieved by TDP government. This is all to educate the people of the state on the need to link various rivers and divert the water to deficient regions like Rayalaseema in order to achieve drought proofing of Andhra Pradesh, says TDP sources.

The Government has embarked on a campaign from October 2, to December 3 to create the awareness on Drought Proofing, Inter- linking of rivers, Water Conservation, Water Management and Plantation. The campaign envisages active participation from all sections of the society besides various Government departments at village , mandal , district , state level, high schools, colleges and universities. During the campaign period discussions , debates and other competitions will be held  for students, farmers, NGOs, Water Users Associations(WUAs), public representatives, Government departments etc. on  drought proofing, inter linking of rivers, water conservation, water management and plantation.

The winners of these competitions will be taken to Pattiseema on pilgrimage. Instructions have been issues to the chief engineer and superintending sngineer, irrigation, who are in charge of Pattiseema Project works, to make necessary arrangements for conducting the awareness tours at the project site and facilities to the visiting pilgrims.

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‘Stop Pattiseema & complete Polavaram’

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Stating that there was an urgency to supply water to Rayalaseema, YSR Congress demanded the TDP government to put the Pattiseema on hold and complete the Polavaramp project on war-footing. The party asked the TDP to stop deceiving people and dubbed the Pattiseema project as fraud and the interlinking of rivers was fake.

‘Inter-linking of rivers through Pattiseema is a waste of public money and it does not serve the intended purpose with faulty workmanship and we demand the government to expedite Polavaram which will benefit the people of Rayalaseema and Krishna delta,’ party spokesperson Perni Nani said here on Monday.

Though the project was declared open, the pattiseema is not linking the rivers as the work on aqueducts seems to be semi-finished.

‘It is only a showmanship but in reality there is hardly any benefit from the Pattiseema project while the benefits of Polavaram are permanent in nature which is why YSR has put in major efforts to bring the project to a take off stage,” Nani said.

‘We demand that Pattiseema should be put on hold and Polvaram should be taken up with all earnestness,’ he added.

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CM Naidu links Godavari with Krishna

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Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu today participated in the ceremony of linking of rivers Godavari-Krishna facilitated by the Pattiseema lift irrigation project. Welcoming the joining of Godavari waters with Krishna waters, chief minister Naidu unveiled a pylon at Ferry, a village in Ibrahimpatnam mandal, Krishna district.To make the linking of two important rivers of Andhra Pradesh memorable Andhra Pradesh government organized the program as a religious event. Priests performed pujas as per the Hindu tradition chanting the Vedic hymns.

The flow of Godavari water towards Krishna basin began with CM switching on the motors meant for pumping of the water into Polavaram right branch canal which empty the water into Krishna barrage. Describing the event as the first step in making state drought proof, chief minister said it was a sacred moment for everyone as they had witnessed great rivers of the state Krishna and Godavari join.

He smeared clay, brought from the point of where Godavari and Krishna water joined, on his forehead. Naidu told the people assembled to there to witness the event that they were witness at a historic and sacred event.Naidu said the interlinking of rivers was the brain-child of Atal Bihari Vajpayee the project could not make progress during UPA regime. “Today, we have taken it up as a challenge and made it happen in a record time, in spite of roadblocks created by detractors,” he said

Pattiseema Lift Irrigation Project was conceived because of the delay involved in in taking up Polavaram project, he said.” We don’t want Rayalaseem suffer during the execution of the Polavarm project which is likely to take four year for the completion,” Naidu said. The Pattiseema is designed to draw 120 tmc water from Godavari and release it into Krishna barrage. The point is being taken up at a cost of Rs 1300 crore and expected to functional fully by March 2016.

Drama in run up to the event

But, to make the event go as per the expectation of political bosses, scores of engineers from electricity and irrigation department along with hundreds of workers had been deployed put the pumps in place. Originally, the switching-on of the motors was to take place at nine in the morning. But, incessant rains put paid to the plans. Till afternoon the welding works could not be completed. Finally, two pumps with a pumping capacity of 354 cusecs were installed and electricity supply posed a problem for some time further delaying the release of water.

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BJP wants Pattiseema to be named after Chandrababu

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Chief minister Chandrababu Naidu on Wednesday turned tables on YSRCP Congress by asking the party to state whether it would support the Pattiseema project or not. So far, YSRCP has been posing the irksome question to chief minister Naidu to tell the people whether he was supporting the special status of not.

Today, state assembly took up Pattiseema Project issue for the debate. As the opposition leader Jagan was away in Pulivendula to participate in death anniversary of YS Rasekhar Reddy, deputy leader J Nehru spoke on the subject. Elaborating on the benefits of Pattiseema project, being taken up on Godavari, Naidu said the project was meant to divert Krishna water to Rayalaseema, which is a drought prone area.
“We want transfer 80 TMC Godavari water to Krishna barrage. The water thus saved in Krishna will be transferred to Rayalaseema. Now tell if you are opposed to taking water to Rayalaseema which was the objective of Pattiseema, or not,” Naidu asked and wanted straight answer.

YSR Congress leader Jyothula Nehru found difficult to answer in clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ . He said his party was not opposed to linking of the rivers, but they were opposed to the way the project was being implemented. “We are opposed to the motive behind the construction of Pattiseema when Polavaram was to be taken up with more benefits. Pattiseema is not a irrigation project, but a money spinning project,” he said.

BJP floor leader, Vishnukumar Raju, who normally used to take critical stand against TDP on many issues, this time, became cheerleader of chief minister Naidu. He said as a civil engineer he knew more about Pattiseema than Nehru. ” It is amazing that the state government is able to finish the project in just eight months and one should appreciate the efforts of chief minister Naidu. Going an extra mile, he suggested to the house that the project should be named as “Chandranna Pattiseema scheme” to the cheers from the treasury benches.

Then Nehru described the BJP as the tail of TDP, which was objected to by Raju stating, BJP could cut tails of YSRCP if it wants. Chief minister also defended BJP stating that it was a national party and there was nothing wrong in Raju’s appreciation of TDP’s work.

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Palamuru Vs Pattiseema: Water Politics in AP and TS

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Though textbooks say water is colorless, tasteless and odorless- in practice water smells corruption, is colored by politics and always tastes bitter as has been proven in the case of all irrigation projects in Andhra Pradesh and its successor states.

A report “Corruption risks and governance challenges in the irrigation sector” prepared by Water Integrity Network says, “The (water) sector deals with a basic human need and is thus socially and politically sensitive. This, as well as the monopolistic and capital intensive character of water supply services, creates an enabling environment for corruption.”

Political parties in power always tend to give top priority to major irrigation and infrastructure projects as societal and personal gains are huge. This is the driving force for  taking up the huge irrigation projects (infrastructure projects like thermal plants) without proper study, cooked up data, exaggeration of benefits, understatement of risks, favorable calculation of benefits versus costs.

One can find all these aberrations in the CAG report (2012, Andhra Pradesh, Report 2, Chapter.3). Projects are rarely sent to Central Water Commission (CWC) for clearance. Palamuru- Ranga Reddy Lift Irrigation Project and Pattiseema are no exception.

As all objectives of these projects are couched in the  language of development- improving livelihoods of poor, arresting farmers’ suicides, providing drinking water to capitals and industrialization, few dare question them directly. All fall in line and support these projects emotively pushing the corruption and politics under carpet.

Palamuru-RR project: Chief minister KCR laid for the project in mid-June. The cost of the project is whopping Rs 32,250 crore. It envisages “to irrigate upland ayacut of 10 lakh acres, drinking water to Hyderabad and industrial use in Mahabubnagar, Rangareddy and Nalgonda districts, by lifting 90 TMC of flood water in 60 days during flood season from foreshore of Srisailam Project located on Krishna river in Mahabubnagar district to Laxmidevipally near Shadnagar, which is the highest elevation in between Mahabubnagar and Ranga Reddy districts. AP’s TDP government wrote a letter to CWC chairman to state the project, along with Nakkalagandi, planned on the surplus waters of Krishna, is being taken up without approval from by Krishna River Management Board (KRMB). AP said this project violates the bifurcation Act-2014.

Pattiseema Lift Irrigation project: Andhra Pradesh is taking up this project as a part of the Polavaram Project. The view has no takers outside government. As the head works of polavarm need about four years, TDP government says,  it is proposed to divert the waters of Godavari to Krishna river by lifting water by 30 turbine pumps, each of 8 cumecs, at a cost of Rs 1300 crore. Political parties, farmers association cried foul of the project and said the project was a sheer waste of money. Even sections of BJP have reservation. They all say that it is better to spend the money on Polavaram to expedite the completion. Everybody suspected corruption. TDP, however, raised the bogey of development, farmers, suicides, Krishna water to Rayalaeema, to silence opposition.

Chief Minister KCR asked Andhra Pradesh to tell if Galeru Nagari, Telugu Ganga, Handri-Neeva Projects had CWC clearance. CAG lends support of KCR argument. Many Jalayagnam Projects have been taken up without clearance. Some projects such as Gandikota-CBR project are taken up even without sending DPR to CWC. Half of the YSR’s Jalayagnam projects are planned without water availability. Andhra Projects need more water than what is available in Krishna River.

Mystery of Flood water: All projects are planned on Flood water. According to Palamuru GO the project draws flood water for 60 days in a season. How many days the flood water is available in Krishna? CAG cites an expert committee report and says the flood days are just 30 and dependability is 45 per cent. While Palamuru needs 60 flood-days, Handri-Neeva is planned to draw flood water for 120 days. With every new project the availability of flood water gets progressively reduced. Where is the water for new projects, a mystery.

Since both states are resorting to build projects on mythical surplus water, they can settle down these issues through negotiations. But, given the regional hatred between the ruling parties, this is unlikely to happen. In fact, experts like S Jeevananda Reddy have alternative mechanisms to address the water needs of Hyderabad. Talking to Telugu360.com, Jeevananda Reddy, a former UN expert, said by arresting wastage of water in Hyderabad, water could be supplied without going in for massive projects which need thousands of crores.

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KCR’s Language Crossing Boundaries: Somireddy

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TDP polit bureau member Somireddy Chandramohan Reddy has expressed his anguish over the language of Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao. Alleging that KCR’s language was crossing boundaries, he said that people of Telangana elected KCR as their chief minister for the development of the state and definitely not to take pot shots at the leaders of Andhra Pradesh.

Come down heavily on matters pertaining to Pattiseema project, Somireddy stressed that neither KCR not KTR has no right to speak a word on Pattiseema works.

He made these remarks in the wake of recent comments made by KCR on Chandrababu Naidu regarding irrigation developments besides the infamous cash-for-vote scam.

The experts observed that although KCR is working towards the development of Telangana state, he must quit the language that he often used in public meetings to hog the limelight given he’s the chief minister of a state now.

(BPK)

 

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