There was a lot of bonhomie between Telangana State Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao and his Andhra Pradesh counterpart Y S Jaganmohan Reddy when the latter was assumed office. KCR had invited Jagan and his family members for lunch at his official residence, Pragathi Bhavan, in Hyderabad and the duo had a one-to-one meeting for several hours. Later, they both declared that all the contentious issues between the two Telugu states, especially water disputes, would be solved across the table and amicably.
In fact, KCR invited Jagan and the then Maharashtra CM Devendra Fadnavis for the inaugural of the mega lift irrigation project at Kaleswaram. But a controversy erupted over Jagan’s government order giving administrative sanction to build the Rayalaseema Lift Irrigation Scheme, which is to draw an additional six to eight TMCs of water per day from the Srisailam reservoir on the Krishna river and also the upgradation of the Potireddypadu head regulator canal system and other projects at a cost of over Rs 7,000 crore.
Krishna Water Disputes Tribunal
In a knee-jerk response, KCR and several of his Cabinet ministers have accused the AP government of constructing illegal projects across the Krishna River and stealing water from the Srisailam reservoir. The Telangana CM also dashed off a letter to PM Modi and the Jal Shakti Minister to immediately constitute a Krishna water tribunal board to decide on the sharing of waters.
The Telangana government has also stated that the state government had withdrawn its complaint in the Supreme Court on the assurance of the Central Jal Shakti minister that withdrawal of the petition would pave the way for the constitution of the Krishna Water Board. They also claimed that the AP government was going ahead with the project, despite orders from the National Green Tribunal and other courts objecting to it. The Telangana irrigation department filed a complaint with the Krishna River Management Board (KRMB) alleging that the Andhra government decision was ‘illegal’ and violated the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014. The state even decided to go to the Supreme Court (SC) on the issue.
But opposition parties like the BJP and the Congress in Telangana have described this as diversionary tactics by both KCR and Jagan to divert public attention from other burning issues. They say both KCR and Jagan are hand-in-glove on the matter and are hoodwinking the public. Interestingly, Jagan’s sister YS Sharmila, who is trying to establish her political party in Telangana, is, for obvious reasons maintaining silence on the entire matter.
Vaccinations in Andhra
Meanwhile, in AP, last week, over 13.26 lakh people were vaccinated from 6am to 8pm in more than 2,200 locations in all 13 districts of the state, a record of sorts. This only goes to show that the AP medical team and other staff can vaccinate over one million daily, if the Centre supplies enough vaccines.
The two Godavari districts, East and West, topped the list, with 1.55 lakh and 1.54 lakh vaccinated. Krishna, Visakhapatnam and Guntur also crossed one lakh mark each. With this, the state also crossed the one-crore mark in the administration of the first dose of the vaccine. So far, 1,11,45,738 people have received the first dose and 27,35,648 the second dose since the vaccination programme began on January 16.
KCR on tour
None can match KCR’s sense of timing in Telangana. He has the habit of taking his political opponents by surprise. When his once right-hand man and now bête noir, former minister E Rajender joined the BJP, the media attention and public eye was obviously on Rajender’s schedule. As if to counter this, CM KCR has embarked on a visit to rural districts for four days. People were surprised that KCR was on tour when there were no elections or any other important programmes in the offing.
He took the opportunity to directly interact with the people and determine their response to a host of welfare and development programmes of the state government. At each of his stops, he made it a point to speak for at least two hours and then ask people about their opinion on various government measures. His witty and humorous speeches seemed to have been a big hit.
During his visit to Warangal to inaugurate a super-specialty hospital, KCR did not mince words while criticising the media, especially the electronic media, for creating panic and fear in people on the spread of coronavirus. But he was polite while doing so and in his inimitable style, gave the media a piece of his mind, asking them not to create fear. He said while doctors, scientists, epidemiologists in the world have yet to finalise the treatment protocol for corona as on date, running 24x7 programmes on the possible reasons for the spread and treatment was not correct and the media should not play with the public health. He said many had perished from the fear of corona than the actual disease itself.
In his speech at the Gram Sabha in Vasaalamarri village which he has adopted, the CM told the people about Muhammad Yunus, a Bangladeshi social entrepreneur, banker, economist, and civil society leader who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for founding the Grameen Bank and pioneering the concepts of microcredit and microfinance.
There was also an undeclared purpose to KCR’s visit. His political opponents have been criticising him for not making any public appearance during the Covid second wave and for not communicating with the people. The four-day visit should perhaps silence his opponents for a while.
The writer is a senior journalist based in Hyderabad