Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Acute Drinking Water Scenario in Telangana

Today, we are witnessing a series of revival meetings for demanding separate Telnagana. Their zeal and enthusiasm are like that of born-again Christians carrying on a crusade against injustice. It is axiomatic that exploitation occurs only between two unequal and that the exploiter would always like to keep the exploited weak. Therefore, development of the Telangana region in a combined state is theoretically not possible. This leaves little scope for the implementation of developmental strategies even if they are suggested. This is precisely what has been happening. For example, the magnificent prosperity of the people living downstream of two mighty rivers Krishna and Godavari, is due to adequate utilization of their waters for their benefit. This is hardly the case with Telangana through which these rivers pass. The people of Telangana, particularly of this generation, feel they are cheated out of their educational and employment opportunities. Add to this the absence of any developmental programs. No wonder, the people are disenchanted and frustrated. Because of the violation of rules made to protect their interests, their faith and credibility in the government has been getting guide seriously eroded. What they are asking for in these meetings, is their right to guide their own destiny. They are not asking for anything that belongs to others. They regard it utterly fatuous when someone tells them not to ask for separation. They see it as an invitation to be exploited further. And they consider it extremely uncouth and uncivilized the way some people try to humiliate them in their own house.

Coming to the question of regional imbalances which are in reality the outcome of discrimination and neglect, it surprising that even in the matter of supplying water to drink, a strange type of indifference can easily be noticed on the part of government . Although Hyderabad is the capital of unified Andhra Pradesh, the water scheme drawing water from the Krishna has been allowed to languish on the drawing boards for almost a quarter of a century. In order to delay the scheme, government has been spending crores of rupees in the name of fresh appraisals; a scheme that was recommended by three expert committees and for which two foundations stones have already been laid, sites fixed and compound walls built. To develop the concept, a private consultant was paid Rs 5 crores whereas, there is hardly anything left to conceive. Meanwhile, the cost of the scheme has gone up from Rs. 129 crores to 180 crores; which means, if the scheme is even taken up and commissioned, only those living on the Banjara Hills and few others, can afford to buy that water, aggravating further the hardship faced by vast majority of city's population, and incidentally, that of the surrounding municipalities that now form part of the so called megacity. Meanwhile, the water from different river basin is increasingly being diverted to the city depriving the people of Medak and farmers toiling for generations in the are under Nizamsagar their legitimate share. The most tragic of all is the case of Nalgonda. People for generations have been facing the twin problems of scarcity and excess fluoride in the water.

The Royal Netherlands Government had offered to provide financial assistance, which is non-repayable, to provide fluoride-free water to the people who are suffering from crippling effects of flourosis. It is really pathetic to see people afflicted with the disease. Yet no serious effort has been made to secure the grant offered. Under this scheme. around three hundred villages and an equal number of hamlets were to be covered. It was also proposed that Srisailam Left Bank Canal should provide water for some of these villages. The Dutch experts were shocked to hear that though the canal is being dug, nothing has been done to make the water flow in it.

The areas around Hyderabad where the industries are located have become unlivable; the ground water is polluted, denying the people water to drink and the air vitiated in such a way that breathing is hazard. The waste treatment plant has been declared as the biggest polluter by the Supreme Court of India.

The general feeling one can gauge in these meetings is that they have crossed the point of no return. Hope held out for so long has been tormenting their soul; anything offered now is not likely to affect their resolve. They attribute it to sheer arrogance when they hear people saying that they will not concede Telangana.

Telangana is nobody's pocket. It does not lie in their mouth to criticize those who favor separation when they themselves have deified the man who wrested the Andhra region from the erstwhile Madras province. In spite of all this, it is remarkable that the voice of the protagonists of Telangana is conciliatory. They believe that affection grows with separation. Bonds that have been established between the two Telugu speaking people can never break. And Telangana, as it has been its traditions, will continue to welcome all those who have genuine love for it. Telangana invites them wholeheartedly to participate in search for and the selection of the most appropriate developmental alternatives for this region, not only to remove the present imbalance but also to lay the path towards a glorious future. The real celebration of the fiftieth year of our independence as a nation lies in this.

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