India - Drought-like situation sparks row in Telangana

02.04.2024 85 views

The drought-like situation prevailing in Telangana due to inadequate rainfall and drying up of major reservoirs has triggered a political slugfest in the southern state ahead of the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, with the opposition Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) and the ruling Congress blaming each other for the crisis.

Telangana will vote in the fourth phase of the Lok Sabha elections on May 13 and the water shortage issue is likely to be raised by various political parties in their poll campaign.

In his first field trip since losing power to the Congress in the November 30 assembly polls, BRS president and former chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao, popularly known as KCR, visited parts of Jangaon, Suryapet and Nalgonda districts and interacted with farmers, who have suffered major crop loss due to water shortage in the ongoing Yasangi (rabi) season.

With local party leaders, including legislators Palla Rajeshwar Reddy and G Jagadish Reddy, in tow, KCR inspected the crop situation at Tharavathi Thanda in Jangaon, Tungaturthi in Suryapet and Nidamanur in Nalgonda.

Speaking to reporters later, KCR claimed that the crops had dried up not due to vagaries of weather, but because of inefficient and inept handling of the situation.

“Though there is around 14 tmc (thousand million cubic feet) of water left in Nagarjunasagar canal, the government miserably failed to supply it to the parched agricultural fields,” he alleged.

The former CM further claimed that the farmers could not even use the groundwater due to inadequate power supply. “As a result, there has been a crop failure in about 15 lakh (1.5 million) acres across the state. The state is staring at a power crisis under the Congress regime in just 100 days,” KCR alleged.

He further said that on Tuesday, BRS leaders will submit memoranda to respective district collectors to demand for bonus for paddy and the party will organise protests on April 6 demanding compensation for crop loss. The protests will also be held at all paddy purchasing centres.

Citing information gathered by the BRS, KCR claimed that at least 200 farmers died by suicide in the past 100 days. “We never thought that such a situation would arise in a prosperous state like Telangana,” he alleged.

The Congress vehemently condemned the comments made by KCR, with state irrigation minister N Uttam Kumar Reddy told reporters that every word of the former CM was an “utter lie”. “He (KCR) says 200 farmers had committed suicide in the last 100 days due to crop failure, which is a blatant lie. Maybe, he is speaking out of frustration due to defection of more than 200 BRS leaders from the party,” Reddy said.

The minister further accused the previous KCR-led government of doing away with the crop insurance scheme. “He had never paid a single rupee to farmers when there was a crop failure in his regime. He has no moral right to talk about irrigation, as it was his government which was responsible for the collapse of the Medigadda barrage of Kaleshwaram project,” Reddy alleged.

State agriculture minister Tummala Nageswara Rao said the rabi season — winter sowing season — had commenced much before the Congress came to power and wondered how the state government could be blamed when there was no rainfall and reservoirs had dried up. “It is disgusting that KCR chose to play politics over drought-like situations in the state,” Rao said in a statement.

He further said there was no water in the Nagarjunasagar dam project even before the Congress came to power. “When the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh was diverting the Krishna-river water from Nagarjunasagar in November, the BRS government remained a mute spectator,” he alleged.

Alleging that the BRS government never provided succour to the farmers, who lost crops in the last 10 years, Rao added: “Now, KCR is trying to sling mud at us for his failures.”

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