The worst fears of united Andhra Pradesh’s last chief minister Kiran Kumar Reddy appear to be coming true with Telangana and residuary state of Andhra Pradesh indulging in no-holds-barred war over sharing of electricity and river water.
Ever since Telangana took birth as India’s 29th state in June, the two Telugu states have quarreled on every issue, be it the central government’s ordinance transferring some villages of Telangana to Andhra to facilitate building of Polavaram project, bifurcating employees, assets and buildings in common capital Hyderabad, admissions in professional colleges or payment of students’ fee.
However, the fresh row over sharing of electricity and Krishna river water appears to be the worst so far.
The bitter war of words has drowned whatever little bonhomie the meeting of two chief ministers had created in August when Telangana’s K. Chandrasekhara Rao and his Andhra counterpart N. Chandrababu Naidu had agreed to solve all issues through talks at their first and only formal meeting in five months, held at the initiative of E.S.L. Narasimhan, the governor of both states.
Kiran Reddy may have gone into political oblivion but the current bitter war of words between the two states reminds one of his warning that there will be water wars if Andhra Pradesh is divided.
He had predicted that water management will become extremely difficult with one state depending on the other for release of water from reservoirs. Though the central government formed river management boards for both Krishna and Govadari rivers to tackle any dispute, the use of water from Srisailam dam for generating electricity by Telangana has snowballed into a confrontation between the two states.
With Naidu knocking the doors of Krishna Water Management Board to stop Telangana on the ground that this will deprive parts of Andhra Pradesh of water for drinking and irrigation, his Telangana counterpart hit back in his inimitable acerbic style.
Calling Naidu a “cheat” and a “liar”, KCR, as Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) chief is popularly known, charged him with starving Telangana of electricity to show it as failed state.
As TRS men targeted Telugu Desam Party (TDP) offices in Telangana to vent their ire, KCR mounted a bitter attack on Naidu.
“After failing to stop formation of Telangana state, he is now using every trick to show to the world that Telangana has failed,” he said while charging Naidum also the TDP president, of violating all rules and the reorganisation act and blaming him for acute electricity shortage in Telangana.
KCR, who is under pressure from the opposition for failing to prevent farmers’ suicides by ensuring uninterrupted electricity supply, alleged that Naidu, on one hand, denied 54 percent electricity to Telangana from existing generating stations as provided in the Reorganisation Act while on the other instigating his TDP leaders in Telangana to protest against TRS government for problems faced by farmers.
Claiming that Telangana is well within its rights to use Srisailam water to generate electricity, KCR declared that this will not stop.
As farmers in upland Telangana depend on electric pumpsets for irrigation, the TRS government maintains that saving standing crops is its top priority.
The opposition parties claimed that over 200 farmers have committed suicide during last four months due to crops damage as a result of electricity shortage.
Telangana has a huge consumption of electricity, mainly due to the massive requirement in Hyderabad and the industries located in and around the city.
The crisis has forced the government to impose two-day holiday in a week for industry and four to eight hour power cuts daily in cities, towns and villages.
With Telangana not likely to overcome power deficit for another three years, observers warn that more such inter-state rows will bound to recur.
“Telangana has come into being with congenital problems because those seeking separate state were worried that if they don’t accept the conditions, it may not be delivered at all. Nobody gave a thought to anticipating and addressing these issues,” says N. Venugopal, a political analyst.
Observers believe that KCR may be using Srisailam issue to hit back at Naidu, who initially attempted to cancel all Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) entered into by Andhra Pradesh Generation Corporation (AP Genco) in the past to deny Telangana its share in electricity.
TDP says KCR is targeting the party and Naidu to hide his inefficiency and to divert people’s attention from his failures on various fronts.
Injustice meted out to Telangana in sharing of river waters since 1956 was one of justifications given by protagonists of Telangana. KCR, who led the movement for last 14 years and achieved the goal, now wants Krishna Water Management Board to correct the injustices done in the past and protect the rights of the newly formed state.