Telangana Today : A Status Paper ఫిబ్రవరి 28, 2007Posted by Telangana Media in Research Papers.
– P.L.Vishweshwer Rao
The long-suppressed agony of Telangana people is finding expression once again in their aspirations for an independent existence and separate identity. After the great betrayal of 1971, they have once again gathered strength to assert themselves; they are prepared to stake their all for the realisation of their dream to be freed the bondage to the people of coastal Andhra. No movement, no struggle has ever started from the top; from intellectuals, thinkers, political and other leaders, and elected representatives and so on. Inevitably, the struggles begin from the people- the people give expression to their suffering because it is they who are victims of the status quo. The long-dormant hope in the people of Telangana was awakened with the announcement of statehood for Uttarakhand by the then Prime Minister H D Deve Gowda. Within a year it has gathered so much strength that politicians, realising its potential have jumped on to its bandwagon. Such disparate schools of thought as People’s War Group and the Bharatiya Janata Party have supported statehood for Telangana.
Why Telangana State?
Because successive governments and the ruling political parties have not only neglected to develop Telangana but have systematically exploited it, denying its share of funds, grabbing its rich, fertile land, exploited it, denying its share of funds, grabbing its rich, fertile land, exploiting its mineral riches and impoverishing its people. Telangana people have been looked down upon, their language derided, their customs and traditions scorned at, their land grabbed, their houses snatched away. They have been discriminated against in recruitment and developmental programs. In short, they were colonised in 1956 even as the country threw off the colonial yoke.
Let us see how a conscious, deliberate well-thought out and implemented conspiracy has worked against the interests of Telangana in the fields of education, irrigation, employment, industrialisation, and allotment of funds and the region’s share in income for its development. Even the cropping pattern is changing for the worse in Telangana, its traditional food crops being replaced with commercial crops with disastrous consequences.
Elementary education is recognised as one of the fundamental human rights.And yet this human right has been denied to the people of Telangana: the region has the lowest literacy rate and minimal educational infrastructure in the state Andhra Pradesh, with a literacy rate of 44.09 ranks among the least literate state. It ranks 26th in the country out of 31 states and Union Territories. It is the most backward in the entire south. As many as eight districts of Telangana out of 10(including Hyderabad) figure among the most backward educationally. Mahbubnagar has the least literacy rate, both among males (40.8 percent) and females (18 percent). The entire Telangana, except Hyderabad city and Ranga Reddy urban areas which abut Hyderabad, has lagged behind educationally. Not a single mandal of Telangana has the national literacy rate of 52.19 percent. Coastal Andhra districts account for 33 out of 45 rural mandals which exceeds the national literacy rate (the rest being in Rayalaseema). The mandals with the lowest literacy rate of less than 20 percent are more in Telangana, as a consequence: 35 such mandals are in Telangana, almost three times those in Coastal Andhra (14). There are only two such mandals in Rayalaseema. District-wise, Adilabad has most of these mandals (14), followed by Mahbubnagar (9), Medak(6), Khammam (3) and Nizamabad, Karimnagar and Nalgonda (one each).
Although Telangana accounts for half of the state’s population, less than 25 percent of the educational institutions from primary to college level are situated in the region. Only 15percent of the aided junior colleges are in Telangana while it has only two medical colleges. As many as six medical colleges are in the other areas. The region is discriminated in the field of technical education also, Only 26 out of the 72 government ITIs, and 20 of the 91 polytechnic colleges are in Telangana. The gross injustice to Telangana can be seen from the expenditure on education. Of the total expenditure of Rs 1150.12 crore the state has incurred on the aided degree colleges since 1956, coastal Andhra cornered the lion’s share of 73.71 percent while Telangana got a paltry 10.43 percent. The corresponding share of the two regions in the expenditure incurred on the aided junior colleges is 62.71 percent and 9.45percent, respectively. In this kind of lopsidedness, how can literacy spread? This is no accident; it cannot be especially since it has continued since 1956, and it pervades all types of education-school, college, professional and technical. This discrimination is deliberate, conscious and planned given its spread, the extent, and all-pervasiveness; it can not be anything but a conspiracy against the people of Telangana.
Irrigation of the three regions of the state
Telangana has the largest area, with 11,48,000sq km, followed by coastal Andhra with 9,28,000sq km. The cultivable areais estimated at 64,02,358 hectares in Telangana and 46,33,304 hectares in the Coastal Andhra. But 13,12,795 hectares or 28.33 percent of the cultivable land in the Coastal Andhra is being irrigated under canal irrigation system, whereas 2,66,964 hectares or 4.17 percent of the cultivable land in Telangana is receiving canal waters. The entitlement of Telangana of waters of Krishna and Godavari rivers is 975 tmc.ft. In 19,74,800 tmc.ft water was allotted to AP by the Bachawat Award to Andhra Pradesh. A re-distribution of this in 1981 saw Coastal Andhra getting the major share with 377.07tmc, Telangana 266.83 tmc and Rayalaseema 123tmc. Telangana’s share in Godavari waters is 709 tmc.ft of the state’s total allotment of 1,495 tmc.ft. Out of its total share of 1153.50 tmc (from all sources) barely 380 tmc water is used for irrigation.
The discrimination against Telangana stands out glaringly in the amounts spent by the state on irrigation. The amount spent in Telangana so far is Rs.4005 crores while that spent in Coastal Andhra is Rs 19,693.50, nearly five times higher. In terms of percentage, while Telangana got a mere 15.5 percent, Coastal Andhra got 76 percent. If the principle of expenditure proportionate to cultivable area were to be followed (as it should be), Telangana, with 44.28 percent of cultivable area should have got an equivalent amount and Coastal Andhra 32.04 percent Instead, and Coastal Andhra got more than twice its share.
Since 1956 to date, the additional irrigation potential created in Telangana is only 5 percent since none of the planned irrigation projects have been completed although they were planned 30-40 years ago. The 12 projects sanctioned for Telangana at an estimated cost of Rs 5,449.53 crore to provide irrigation for 10.08 lakh hectares have been progressing at snail’s pace for decades.
The Sriram Sagar Project (SRSP) was started in 1963 and is yet to be completed. Even the first phase of the project was not completed after 33 years. The rehabilitation of the displaced people under this project is still pending. The Bheema project, which is older than Andhra Pradesh has remained on paper. Jurala, Icchampally too have languished. While ‘experts’ and decision makers debate interminably and have still not decided on Srisailam Left Bank Canal (which is to irrigate about 3 lakh hectares in Telangana,) to supply water either through lift or tunnel. The Srisailam Right Bank Canal feeding the coastal districts progresses steadily. Even the 33 medium projects proposed in Telangana which could utilise 80 to 100 tmc of water at a cost of Rs 500 crore have been kept pending . Compare this delay with the alacrity attending on the Telugu Ganga project; it got funds allocated consistently, year after year, and within 12 year of its grounding, the project is supplying water to Chennai.
Even budgetary allocation is not fully spent on projects benefiting Telangana. For the Bheema lift irrigation scheme, the budgetary allocation was nine crore rupees in 1996-97, which was pruned to Rs 10 lakhs. Subsequently, only six lakh rupees were spent. On the SRSP,only six crore rupees were spent during 1996-97 against an allocation of Rs 25 crore. In 33 years only Rs 978 crores had been spent on the SRSP.And yet Rs 1075 crores were spent on Telugu Ganga in 12 years.
Callous indifference and neglect of maintenance of tanks in Telangana has reduced the area under tank irrigation by half, an unprecedented occurrence, In 1956-57,4.47 lakh hectares were under tank irrigation which has come down to 2.26 lakh hectares. This increasingly made Telangana farmers resort to exploiting groundwater which is suicidal for a semi-arid region. This dependence on pumpsets saw a great tragedy befall Telangana farmers early this year: as power supply was erratic, irregular and of low quality (low voltage), they incurred huge losses as crops dried up leaving farmers in debt. Several farmers committed suicide. No other region suffered as much due to power scarcity as Telangana.
As irrigation projects for Telangana got bogged down in delays, cost overruns, controversies, power generation projects too suffered. The Srisailam Left Bank
Canal is one such project. Only 1543 mw of power is generated in this region whereas the generating capacity of the other two regions is 7477 mw. All power stations with the exception Ramagundam and Kothagudem are located outside Telangana, although Telangana accounts for a major share of power consumption and more than three-fourths of catchment area of Krishna and Godavari rivers is in Telangana. That the needs of Telangana are at the bottom of the priorities of the government is evident from the fact that as many as two lakh applications for new power connections are pending with the government. Yet, there is no plan to increase the power generating capacity in Telangana even as two lakh people wait in vain for a power connection.
Changing Cropping Pattern
A dangerous and little-noticed development that threatens Telangana is the changing cropping pattern in the region with food crops giving way to cash crops. The change has been taking place over two decades now with food crops suitable for semi-arid regions giving way to water-intensive cash crops. Staple cereals such as jawar, maize and bajra preferred by local people, serving as food for them and fodder for their cattle have declined significantly in area. The area under jawar has come down from 13,63,139 hectares to 7,97,864 hectares during 1981- 84 to 1990-93.