Drought rocks Telangana State Assembly

Drought rocks Telangana State Assembly

Unruly scenes dominated the Assembly proceedings on Sunday with Congress members staging a walkout accusing the ruling TRS of failing to mitigate the woes of the people affected by drought across Telangana. 

Hyderabad: Unruly scenes dominated the Assembly proceedings on Sunday with Congress members staging a walkout accusing the ruling TRS of failing to mitigate the woes of the people affected by drought across Telangana.

Members from the Opposition Congress and the treasury benches were involved in a war of words for an hour over the actions of Congress deputy floor leader T Jeevan Reddy, who was accused of menacingly racing towards the agriculture minister P Srinivas Reddy, unhappy at his answer on drought mandals.

The issue began with the first question during the Question Hour raised by Congress member G Chinna Reddy, who wanted to know the criteria adopted by the government to declare drought mandals. Revenue minister Md Mahmood Ali said that there was no severe drought in the state but added that 231 mandals were declared drought hit.

The mandals are declared drought-affected after going through various parameters including rainfall, dry spells, crop area, crop yield, inputs from state agriculture department, district collector’s field report, he said. Chinna Reddy said that the government’s enumeration was unscientific stating that there were no mandals from Adilabad and Khammam.

All the mandals from Nizamabad, Medak, and Mahabubnagar were included in the list of drought affected mandals and partial mandals were included in Nalgonda, Rangareddy, Karimnagar and Warangal districts. Congress senior MLA T Jeevan Reddy pointed out that all the mandals in the agriculture minister’s district and chief minister K Chandrashekar Rao’s district were included in the list whereas injustice was done to mandals in Karimnagar.

Replying to this, agriculture minister P Srinivas Reddy said that there was a set of guidelines to declare drought mandals. If rainfall is between -19 mm and +19 mm it is a normal rainfall, if it is between -20 mm and -59 mm it is deficit, if it is between -60 mm and it is a scanty rainfall and if the rainfall is -100 mm, it would be no rain. He listed out districts with rain fall Adilabad (-18mm), Nizamabad (-45), Karimnagar (-57), Medak (35), Ranga Reddy (-27), Mahbubnagar (-25), Nalgonda (-1), Warangal (+13), Khammam (+12) and Hyderabad (-11).

Replying to a question on Jeevan Reddy’s question as to what the government did on the High Court’s order to review the drought mandals, Srinivas Reddy said that government had given the task to a nine-member committee of IAS officers and they would file a report on this. He said that the Central team had visited and assured to help with Rs 791 crore even as the state government sought Rs 3,000 crore. He said that the Centre had released only Rs 56 crore and assured to give the funds in the current budget.

Unsatisfied with the answer, Jeevan Reddy rushed into the well and later towards the chair of Srinivas Reddy and showed him the papers. Deputy Chief Minister Kadiyam Srihari said that that a senior member and former minister should not have come into the well of the House and also to the minister’s bench. He said that even though a senior member, Jeevan Reddy was politicizing the issue.

He wanted Jeevan Reddy to express unconditional apology for the incident before proceeding further in the House and added that the Congress member was lowering the prestige of the House. He also said that Congress leader Jana K Reddy was in the meeting of the Rules Committee, which decided not to extend question too far.

At this point, the speaker adjourned the House for ten minutes at 10.53 am. Later, the House reassembled at 11.25 am, leader of Opposition (LoP) K Jana Reddy said that this was an important question and added that the government should not insist on the issue in the name of rules. He said that he was neither a member of the Rules Committee nor did he attend any meeting. He said that as the drought issue was serious, the government should extend the question for half an hour.

Intervening at this point, Panchayat Raj minister K T Rama Rao said that during N Kiran Kumar Reddy’s regime in the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, when TRS raised the same issue and staged a dharna in front of the chief minister's chambers, he walked over them without giving any support.
Jeevan Reddy alleged that the deputy chief minister was misleading the House.

BJLP leader Laxman suggested the Speaker to call for a meeting of all Legislature party leaders and take a decision. In the mean time, Jana Reddy stood up and said that his party was walking out in protest against the inaction of government on the demand for a debate on drought mandals in the state.

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