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Water in lieu of cash-for-vote : YSRCP Allegation

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YSR Congress is suspecting  a water-deal between Chandrababu Naidu and Telangana in the continued release of water from Srisailam reservoir unmindful of the difficult situation being faced by the people of Rayalaseema.  The state was also ignoring the minimum level condition, the party said.

According the Party MLA Gandikota Srikanth Reddy, the evidence is the coincidence of commencement of  water release from  Srisailam dam and cash-for-vote scam. How could it be possible to release water so generously from the reservoir without maintaining the cut off level?, he asked.

Recalling the agitations of farmers to stop the release of water in order to make them available for the people of Rayalaseema,  Srikanth Reddy  demanded that minimum level at 854 ft be maintained in the reservoir.

Wondering at  not maintaining the minimum 854 ft level, he said it was not possible for any government  to release so much water generously, over and above usual  quantity, without  any deal with the Telangana government unless there was an understanding and that  this had happened  in wake of the cash for vote scam was a clear proof for the deal.

The YSRCP MLA also demanded the TDP government an all-party meeting be convened to discuss severe drought situation prevailing in the state and the steps to be taken to provide relief to the farmers. He stressed on the need  provide one-time settlement  of loan-waiver for the farmers as the drought in the state crippled the financial conditions of farmers’ families.

‘The TDP government’s indifference towards drought is objectionable. We demand that an all-party meeting be convened to discuss the steps to be taken to mitigate the situation,’ Party MLA G Srinkant Reddy  said. The party  also demanded that the Government to clear all the loans of farmers in a single installment which would alone benefit the farmer .

‘Reiterating that Rayalseema is being neglected badly, he said that the irrigation projects which were near completion during the term of YSR are still pending and Chandrababu Naidu is concentrating only on one region,’ he said.

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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.

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

Reel World Reels Under Pressure-A Special Report

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Not just newspapers but even movies do come under heavy criticism for the content—sometimes from the governments, at times from the public and seldom from religious organisations—that try and seize the independence of those film makers who hold mirror up to the society. Right from yesteryear’s Gokul Shankar to India’s Daughter, countless dramas that have close resemblance to socio-economic issues of the society were shunned.

[pullquote position=”left”]A filmmaker has almost the same freedom as a novelist has when he buys himself some paper–Stanley Kubrick[/pullquote].

The first film that came under the scanner in India was Gokul Shankar, which was released in 1959. The movie apparently projected the behaviour of Naturam Godse. Garam Hawa was a realistic movie that portrayed the lives of a Muslim family during the partition of India.  Indira Gandhi was really upset with Aandhi movie, which was released in 1975 when financial emergency was proclaimed by her. The movie was banned. Janata Government had, however, lift the ban later.

Another movie that came on the similar lines was Kissa Kursi Ka (1977), which was a spoof on Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi. The loyalists of Sanjay Gandhi burnt all the master copies of the movie.Hollywood movie Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) was banned as the government felt that the movie showed Indian culture in bad light.Bandit Queen, released in 1994, was banned by Delhi High Court when Poolam Devi, the subject of the movie, challenged the authenticity of the content.

Hawayein movie that was released in 2003 projected the situation of Sikhs during 1984 massacre. The movie was banned in Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love was initially not allowed to exhibit in India due to its sexual content. However, the movie was subject to several cuts and Indian version contained two minutes of nudity.When Fire movie was released in 1996, director Deepa Mehta received critical appreciation. The movie, however, came under severe attack as Hindu fundamentalists attacked theatres and the film was withdrawn.

Released in 2004,Final Solution depicted  the tales of people during 2002 Godhra riots.  The movie was banned by the Censor Board citing provocative content.Water movie faced severe opposition the moment movie went on floors. The Hindu fundamentalists destroyed sets of the movie and Uttar Pradesh Government finally decided to ban the movie shooting in 2000. After so many hiccups, the movie was released in 2007. However, it’s still a question if the movie was released in India theatres.

Recently, the NDA Government banned BBC’s documentary India’s Daughter over alleged negative sentiment. The movie was, however, uploaded to Youtube. While these are some official bans, there’s nothing more than their hero’s image for hysteric fans who choose cinema theatres to vent out their anger when their favourite actors essay characters that receive slaps from soft-gender. Well, it happens in India, Though we have fundamental right—Freedom of Speech and Expression, there are thousand other acts to corner real movies.

That’s probably how producers are now concerned only about money making and directors are making movies that have all commercial elements—heroism, punch dialogues, item songs, action scenes, comedy and a pinch of emotional factor. Nonetheless, the people out there who choose film as a medium to convey a powerful message, will continue to make meaningful movies.

(Phani B)

Telugu360 is always open for the best and bright journalists. If you are interested in full-time or freelance, email us at Krishna@telugu360.com.

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