Deluge batters AP and Telangana, water dispute rears head and more

PTI9_24_2016_000086A Army personnel arrive to help flood affected areas in Hyderabad on Saturday | PTI

This week, water seems to be playing a very important role in both the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. With continuous rains battering the states, the Chief Ministers are worried men. The water levels are rising dangerously and both the states are woefully unprepared, not having learnt anything from their previous experiences. Both the them, which were earlier reeling under a numbing drought, are now literally sinking with heavy rains leading to floods. With the rain not falling in the catchment area of Himayathsagar and Gandipet, Hyderabad, the city for which Telangana fought long and hard, is inundated in such a bad way that commuting has become hell for the denizens of Hyderabad. The Guntur citizens in Andhra Pradesh also face a similar problem.

The much touted IT city of Telangana is being battered in the downfall. Surprisingly the Minister of municipal services, K T Rama Rao, is able to do zilch though he vents his ire on all issues related to the municipality. The already abysmal roads have become worse, with pot holes and a sink hole to boot right in the middle of the NTR Marg, which leads to the secretariats of both the states. With predictions of more rain, the officials too are left in the lurch because no patching up can be done till the patch of bad weather passes.

Each commute costs the Hyderabadi dearly. At least two to three hours are necessary to commute from point to point, the wear and tear on the vehicle being something else entirely. Considering the surge pricing and the rising costs, a cab ride cannot be considered as a better option. The government has declared the weekend holiday for all the schools and colleges. Low lying areas have been completely inundated in this 500 year old city, which was properly planned when it came into being. But in recent times, illegal housing colonies have mushroomed, leading to crowding cemented buildings not allowing the water to pass.

Hyderabad used to be a city of lakes once upon a time and while the Telangana government and its irrigation minister Harish Rao have been getting pats on the back for Mission Kakatiya (to revive and refurbish all the old lakes lying dormant), real estate players have been involved in constructing multi-storey buildings over these `dry' lakes. In fact, during monsoon, there have been cases where the entire building sunk by about a foot or more. In some cases, hutments and houses have been flooded, forcing people to scramble for higher and drier places.

In coastal Andhra Pradesh, where the damage is not quite intense, normal life has taken a severe beating in cities like Guntur and Vijayawada.

The monsoon was welcome and farmers heaved a sigh of relief when there was activity, but now with the chaos which accompanies monsoons, people are praying for drier days. After this monsoon session, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh will get another batch in late October/early November. Though these rains are not as heavy, the governments would hopefully be prepared by then.

There has been a huge amount of crop loss because of incessant rains, but the farmer is hoping that the next crop will be better. And the Hyderabadi hopes that the roads will be repaired and their commute can be less tortuous.

Meanwhile, again on the subject of water, both the chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh--Chandrababu Naidu and his counterpart K Chandrasekhar Rao--flew to Delhi on September 21, on what is considered as a red-letter day for both the states. There, they met with the Union Water for Resources Minister Uma Bharti at the behest of the Supreme Court. An understanding was arrived at his first meeting of the Apex council in Delhi. The two CMs, along with their officials, agreed upon three things in the initial stage.

It has been agreed that a Telemetry system would be installed wherever they wanted, for water gauging. Both states agreed to this in order to find out the quantity of water in each river and how much was flowing into each state. A joint committee, comprising of engineers from the two states and from the Central Water Commission, will be constituted to study availability of water in the river basin. And finally the report of the joint committee will be sent to the tribunal with a request to allocate the water to the states so that they can go ahead with their respective projects. Telangana has been alleging that Andhra was resorting to diversion of huge quantity of water from the Pothireddypadu head while Andhra objected to "illegal projects" like Palamuru-Ranga Reddy and Dindi being taken up by Telangana. And though both the rivers pass through Telangana before reaching Andhra Pradesh, Telangana is also demanding a share in the Krishna water as compensation for Andhra Pradesh diverting Godavari water through the Pattiseema lift irrigation scheme. Water sharing is never peaceful but it is left to be seen how these two states will handle it because one of the main reasons the state was divided was also because Telangana always felt that it was never getting her right share of waters. Now after becoming a separate state, they might fight tooth and nail for the same.

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