By Rahul Maganti:
Telangana, formed as the 29th state of India on June 2nd after a prolonged struggle, elected the Telangana Rashtra Samiti Chief K Chandrasekhar Rao (KCR) as its Chief Minister. He has many challenges before himself and the new Govt. is expected to rise up to the occasion and deliver. The single biggest reason for the bifurcation was that people from Andhra region took away majority of the jobs in the Telangana region. This, coupled with the political untouchability of backward regions in Telangana angered the Telangana people. This can also be seen as the oppression, both political and economic, by the dominant classes of Andhra region on the not-so-developed backward classes of Telangana. The political parties and the leaders failed to give an answer to this and thus was the Telangana movement started. The history of the struggle of Telangana dates back to the late 1960’s when Indira Gandhi almost handled it with an iron leg. From then on, the movement was taken up in bits and pieces, but lacked a strong leader. In 2001, KCR came out of Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and formed TRS after being denied a ministerial berth in Mr. Chandrababu Naidu’s cabinet. From then on, the movement was consistent, both politically and activism wise. The movement, which was largely peaceful, had experienced stray incidents of violence many a times when the people in power tried to quell away a peaceful and democratic wish turned protest using repressive and brutal police force.
With the state formed, the party which was born out of a movement should consciously transform itself into a party which can govern and meet the aspirations of the Telangana people. The genuine demands of Telangana people — unemployment, social backwardness, farming and agricultural issues, water and power sharing issues and industrialization etc. should be dealt with effectively. Telangana, which largely houses the OBC’s, SC’s, ST’s and minorities, is considered a backward region of Andhra Pradesh, both socially and economically. Keeping in view the caste equations, KCR promised the Chief Minister chair for a Dalit. Unfortunately, he failed to keep up his promise for reasons only understood by him. In its election manifesto, the TRS also announced a loan waiver to a tune of one lakh rupees per farmer to the loans taken across the five years. But, it drew a flak from the opposition parties for having bracketed the loan waiver scheme to loans taken in the financial year 2013-2014. It needs to be seen how this will be unconditionally implemented when the state is reeling under huge economic problems.
Industrialization: The erstwhile state of Andhra Pradesh has never had worthwhile industrial corridors and its majority of the income (to the tune of 70% and more) was concentrated in Hyderabad alone, and precisely for this reason, Hyderabad has become a bone of contention during the bifurcation. Now, with the whole economy centered around the city of Hyderabad, similar problems may arise in the future. So, the new Govt. should consciously develop industrial corridors in the state on par with Hyderabad, keeping in mind the huge mineral and forest resources in southern Telangana. The barren North Telangana districts should be carefully utilized in setting up of industries which need huge lands, but this too, again, with the complete acceptance of the farmers and the stakeholders there. If only the Govt. could come up with proper rehabilitation, say giving a job to every person who gives his piece of land, should also be able to tackle the problem of unemployment in the less educated districts. These industries should be set up keeping in mind the local geographical conditions and the suitability of the industry in that particular region. This way, unemployment could be tackled and there would be proper uniform development across the state, unlike the previous state of Andhra Pradesh where rulers completely ignored the backward regions of Telangana and dumped money into the city of Hyderabad.
Agriculture, Water and Power Sharing: The Delta region of Andhra Pradesh always had a lion share of the waters of Krishna and Godavari. Because of this very reason, agriculture wasn’t able to flourish in the Telangana region and the farming community was in distress for many a decades. The region comprises 68 per cent of the catchment area of the Krishna River and 79 per cent catchment area of Godavari River. Utilizing these resources for the development of the region will be a big challenge for the state in the coming days. Most crucial among these will be making water available to the drought-prone districts of the region.
This must be understood in the backdrop of the fact that assured water from Krishna (811 tmcft) and Godavari (1,480 tmcft) had already been allocated project-wise. Of the total 811 tmcft of Andhra Pradesh’s share of the Krishna water, 298 tmcft has been allocated to Telangana, 145 tmcft to Rayalaseema and the remaining 368 tmcft to the Andhra region. This allocation is against the international guidelines of catchment area equation, since Telangana has the highest catchment area for both the rivers. The State is likely to be awarded an additional 227 tmcft by the Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal, of which 77 tmcft has been allocated to Telangana and the rest to the Seemandhra region (Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema). The additional allocation is based on the surplus water, hitherto enjoyed totally by the State, but now apportioned among the three riparian States of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.
The issue in the case of Godavari water is simpler: 900 tmcft of assured water is allocated to projects in Telangana and 580 tmcft to Seemandhra. The Godavari Waters Disputes Tribunal in 1975 awarded 1,480 TMC to Andhra Pradesh. Within the state, 79 per cent of the river catchment area is in Telangana while 21 per cent is in coastal Andhra. According to the advocates of Telangana state, going by the catchment area, Telangana region should get 1,169 TMC of water, when it becomes a separate state. So, the Telangana Govt. should fight tooth and nail for the water resources, which will also ease out the power situation in the state and also should help the agricultural scene in the state, which had a deficit in the last financial year.
How will surplus water be shared when Andhra Pradesh is divided? The surplus water has been programmed for use in seven projects – three in Telangana and four in the Seemandhra region. “But, it has to be seen how things will develop as the projects based on surplus water will not have legal sanctity till the tribunal notifies the award,” says the former Central Water Commission member, R. Vidysagar Rao. However, the need for boards for Krishna and Godavari, on the lines of the Tungabhadra and Cauvery rivers for monitoring the water distribution between Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka is the need of the hour. “But the Board should have teeth, unlike the one for Tungabhadra, with powers to enforce the agreements on sharing of water as well as ensuring that there is no pilferage by either side,” Mr. Vidyasagar Rao argues.
There is a major concern on the power front, but experts point out that completion of the ongoing capacity addition projects would generate a surplus in both the states. Of the Andhra Pradesh Generation Corporation’s total installed capacity of 8,924 MW, 4,825 MW (54 per cent) is now generated from Telangana projects while the balance comes from projects in Seemandhra. “It will take time as projects cannot be completed overnight,” says Transco joint managing director D. Prabhakar Rao. The recent decision of the AP Govt. and APGENCO to withdraw the PPA’s which will be in accord for 10 years according to the AP Reorganization Act, drew the flak of the Telangana Govt. The Centre stepped in at the timely moment and averted a dangerous loggerhead battle and asked the AP Govt. to continue with the PPA’s. This will hopefully solve the water and power problems in the state of Telangana and thereby set a worthy launch pad for the agriculture in the state to take-off, provided the Govt. rightly fights for each and every tmcft of those rivers.
Even a cursory look at the states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttarakhand will empirically prove that a mere formation of a small state is no guarantee for better lives of the people and groups for whom the state was formed. However, with such examples in front of us, Telangana should take careful steps towards development and the TRS party which championed the cause of the Telangana Movement must rise to the occasion and deliver keeping in mind the challenges it has to overcome.