From IT poster boy to water man

From IT poster boy to water man

IANS |   Sep 10,2017 , 04:35 AM IST

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu switching on the pumps of Muchumarri Lift Irrigation Scheme on Friday
Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu switching on the pumps of Muchumarri Lift Irrigation Scheme on Friday

Buoyed by the electoral gains in the YSRC’s stronghold of Nandyal, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is out to address the regional imbalances in growth in the State. Harnessing of the river water to irrigate the fallow lands seems to be the buzz word now in the corridors of power.  

 The CM launched a lift scheme at Muchumarri, the native village of Byreddy Rajasekhar Reddy, founder of the Rayalaseema Parirakshana Samithi (RPS), who is seeking a separate state for the four Rayalaseema districts, in Kurnool district within a fortnight.

In a striking departure in his perception towards agriculture during his previous stints, Naidu is understood to have realised the fact that the state’s growth story hinges on agriculture growth in the two backward regions of Rayalaseema and Uttarandhra, as also his political fortunes. It is programmed to bring 1.98 lakh acres under cultivation with the Krishna waters in Rayalaseema region. The two regions are industrially also backward as no investor ventures to establish industries when there is no water

The lift scheme was designed to pump the Krishna water into the Handri-Neeva Srujala Sravanti (HNSS). Naidu launched another lift scheme notably at the same village for drawing the Krishna river water into the Kurnool-Cuddapah  (KC) canal in January this year. An ambitious project of Uttarandhra Srujala Sravanti (USS) Scheme was launched at Kasimkota in Visakhapatnam district followed by Chintalapudi lift scheme at Guddigudem in Krishna district a couple of days ago. 

In this connection, he expressed his strong resolve to dedicate the USS project to the state by 2019 by all means. The Chintalapudi lift scheme is proposed to utlise the Godavari waters for benefiting the upland tracts in the Krishna and West Godavari districts. 

The USS project with a cost of Rs 7000-odd crore, as estimated in 2009, aims to turn the water-starved Uttarandhra region into the lush-green paddy fields. Naidu inaugurated the lift scheme on the Sarada river in phase-I a day before the government issued an order sanctioning Rs 2,022 crore. In the backward region with four districts, huge patches of 20 lakh acres of lands are uncovered by any permanent irrigation source.  

Fifty per cent of the lands are under village tanks. It is proposed to take the Polavaram left main canal beyond Visakhapatnam district with a lift at Purushothampatnam and pump house at Anakapalli by connecting a few rivers like Vamsadhara and Nagavali as part of the USS project.

Although the USS project was designed at the fag-end of the YS Rajasekhara Reddy government of the Congress in 2009, it was realised in the TDP government following an assurance from Naidu at his party Maha Nadu in Visakhapatnam. Senior party leaders like Roads and Buildings Minister Ch. 

Ayyannapatrudu requested the CM to take up the project and free the region from distress conditions. K Harinadh, instrumental in designing the project as Superintending Engineer in the Irrigation department, emphasizes the need to build four reservoirs and supplement the reserves in the tanks with the USS water. He says the cost overruns might have crossed Rs 16,000 crore from Rs 7,000 crore in the last eight years since the conception of the project.

In a striking departure in his perception towards agriculture during his previous stints, Naidu is understood to have realised the fact that the state’s growth story hinges on agriculture growth in the two backward regions, as also his political fortunes. It is programmed to bring 1.98 lakh acres under cultivation with the Krishna waters in Rayalaseema region. The two regions are industrially also backward as no investor ventures to establish industries when there is no water.

 The TDP-BJP faced the last election with an assurance to realise the promises of developing backward regions and creation of separate railway zone with Visakhapatnam as the headquarters. The railway zone failed to become a reality even three years after the election and the Centre doled out only Rs 350 crore for the seven backward districts in Rayalaseema and Uttarandhra regions even as the State asked for 24,000-odd crore as special development fund (SDF).

Uttarandhra is a strong base for the TDP when compared with Rayalaseema, Naidu’s home turf. The TDP-BJP combine secured 30 out of 36 Assembly seats in Uttarandhra in the last general election. Of the total 61 seats in Rayalaseema, TDP got 35 while YSRC settled for 26. 

The margin of votes between the two parties was as thin as 2.06 per cent. Naidu this time is seemingly striving hard to undo his past image as an IT poster boy without agriculture in his scheme of things. This image cost him dearly in 2004 general elections even as the Congress leader late YS Rajasekhara Reddy conveniently capitalised on unrest in farm sector triggered by a spate of suicides.

The drive of irrigation projects and his vow to realise Polavaram project by 2018 apparently indicate Naidu’s shift in favour of agriculture this time. He is hoping to re-script his electoral success in the upcoming general elections by ensuring realisation of major pending projects.



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