Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dr. JP congratulates KCR on conceding Pranahita-Chevella project is unviable

Lok Satta Party national President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today heartily congratulated Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) President K. Chandrasekhara Rao (KCR) on courageously and sincerely characterizing the Pranahita- Chevella lift irrigation scheme as one meant to take the Telangana people for a ride.

Addressing a media conference, Dr. JP recalled that the Lok Satta for the last four years has tried to convince those in the Government and outside that the project is ill conceived. Yet, leaders of the Congress, TDP and the YSR Congress Party have been hoodwinking the public by clamoring for implementation of the economically unviable and financially disastrous project.

Dr. JP reeled out facts and figures to buttress his argument. The project is currently estimated to cost Rs.40,000 crore and past experience shows that the cost may go up considerably by the time project is completed As of now, it involves a capital expenditure of Rs.300000 an acre. The Government has to spend Rs.30,000 per acre every year on the maintenance and operation of the lift irrigation system, not to mention the cultivation costs to be incurred by the farmer. The operation of the lift irrigation system calls for generation of nearly 4000 mw of power. How can anyone justify expenditure of such a magnitude when the farmer does not get more than Rs.20000 an acre? As of now, the State is allocating nearly 70 million (7 crore) units a day to the agriculture sector out of the total 240 million units generated every day. In addition the state is now committing 8000 Mw of power for unviable lift irrigation schemes. The new lift irrigation projects alone will require allocation of an additional 120 to 150 million (12 to 15 crore) units a day. Is it possible in a power-starved State?

Dr. JP said that the Government has already given away to contractors Rs.1100 crore on the unviable project even without a sod of earth being turned up merely to reward contractors and earn commissions. He recalled that Chief Minister Dr. Y. S. Rajaseskhara Reddy whom he briefed on the project agreed to get the project reviewed two days before he died unfortunately in the air crash.

Dr. JP suggested that the money proposed to be spent on Pranahita chevella and other unviable projects should be utilized to improve groundwater table, soil fertility, to build infrastructure, promote industrialization and generate employment in Telangana. Otherwise, the project will turn out to be an albatross round the neck of Telangana if the State is formed.

Dr. JP said that the lift irrigation projects proposed in the State would require a total of 8000 mw of additional power and called for a thorough review of all such projects. Annually the state is spending Rs 5000 crore under employment guarantee act. This money must be utilized mostly in Telangana and Rayalaseema dry areas for soil and water conservation. There must be an annual groundwater survey in every village to ensure that the money is properly utilized.

In reply to a question, he said he would write to both the State and Central Governments opposing the project and proposing utilization of the funds meant for it on Telangana development. Replying to another question, he said the Polavaram project has been conceived to divert the Godavari water to the Krishna basin so that the Krishna water can be utilized to irrigate backward areas in Telangana and Rayalaseema.

Dr. JP said that in their bid to reap electoral dividends leaders of all the mainstream parties are making wild promises in the belief that people are ignoramuses, and can be deceived. They are interested in coming to power at any cost and are unmindful of the State's future.

He referred to promises of loan waivers to farmers and higher percentage of reservations for minorities. What the farmers need is remunerative price for their produce and not loan waivers, he said and asked whether the previous loan waiver had improved the farmers' lot Dr JP pointed out that the Rytu satyagraha launched by Lok Satta in Feb 2012 through padayatras from Kurnool to Karnataka, and Nizamabad to Nanded opposing government’s illegal restrictions on interstate trade have benefitted the farmers to a tune of Rs 3600 crore. By ensuring a fair price to one variety of paddy in one season alone benefitted farmers in a significant way. Instead of ensuring higher incomes to farmers, these parties are emptying state coffers even as farmers continued to suffer on account of bad policies. He pointed out that as per the Supreme Court verdict, reservations in Government jobs and educational institutions cannot exceed 50 percent. Since SCs, STs and BCs account for 46 percent of reservations, minorities cannot get more than four percent reservations.

Dr. JP said the mainstream parties are reckless in promising more and more freebies forgetting that the State has not been able to fulfill its basic duties like maintenance of law and order, provision of education and health care, drinking water and electricity.

He appealed to youth to wake up to the threat they faced because of the wild promises being made by political parties.

Lok Satta Party leaders Katari Srinivasa Rao, K. Gita Murthy and Janakirama Raju took part in the media conference.

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