TELANGANA: THE BIG RU­RAL PUSH

The KCR gov­ern­ment is pulling out all the stops to beef up ru­ral in­fra­struc­ture ahead of the 2019 assem­bly elec­tion

India Today - - STATES - By Amar­nath K. Menon

Brac­ing for the assem­bly polls slated in May 2019, chief min­is­ter K. Chan­drashekar Rao is push­ing to com­plete in­fra­struc­ture projects in the state. Re­flect­ing his sense of ur­gency, cab­i­net sub­com­mit­tees have been tasked to ex­pe­dite de­vel­op­ment projects, par­tic­u­larly ini­tia­tives to ben­e­fit the ru­ral pop­u­la­tion. Declar­ing in­tent, in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy min­is­ter K.T. Rama Rao and ir­ri­ga­tion and leg­isla­tive af­fairs min­is­ter T. Har­ish Rao have be­gun tour­ing the dis­tricts to su­per­vise these projects.

In an­other big push, the state’s power util­ity is work­ing over­time to en­sure 24x7 elec­tric­ity sup­ply for agri­cul­ture. The move, pack­aged with ap­peals to farm­ers to do away with au­to­matic starters on pump sets in or­der to end wastage, will cost the gov­ern­ment an es­ti­mated Rs 5,394 crore in a year.

KCR is also rac­ing ahead with Mis­sion Bhagiratha—his 2014 poll prom­ise to bring piped drink­ing wa­ter and In­ter­net con­nec­tiv­ity to ev­ery home in the state’s 24,225 ru­ral homes be­fore the end of 2018. Work is un­der way to lay op­tic fi­bre ca­bles along­side the 169,000 km net­work of pipe­lines en­vis­aged as part of the ven­ture.

To en­sure avail­abil­ity of wa­ter, bar­rages are un­der con­struc­tion on the Go­davari at Medi­gadda, An­nram and Sundilla with pump houses at Kan­nepally, Siripu­ram and Go­li­vada. To­gether, the three bar­rages will utilise 180 thou­sand mil­lion cu­bic feet (TMC ft) of wa­ter and pro­vide ir­ri­ga­tion to 1.8 mil­lion acres across 13 dis­tricts. The an­nual power con­sump­tion of the pump houses is ex­pected to be 4,500 megawatts. The gov­ern­ment is in­stalling flow-con­trol valves to check mis­use or wastage of wa­ter. At­tempts to draw more than the pre­scribed limit per house­hold by in­stalling mo­tors will re­sult in a dis­con­nec­tion of sup­ply. Pegged as a ‘game changer’, KCR has de­clared that his party will not seek votes in 2019 if he fails to com­plete Mis­sion Bhagiratha.

Mean­while, the rev­enue au­thor­i­ties are close to com­plet­ing an in­ten­sive sur­vey of the ru­ral and ur­ban land records to is­sue all own­ers se­cu­rity-en­abled pat­tedar pass­books be­fore Ugadi, the Tel­ugu New Year, on March 18. This ex­ten­sive data­base will be used to dis­burse KCR’s prom­ise of Rs 4,000 per acre agri­cul­tural grant to farm­ers. “If farm­ers are happy, the ru­ral econ­omy will thrive and the state will be happy,” says the chief min­is­ter, who has, for the first time, as­sured min­i­mum sup­port prices for all farm pro­duce. With a to­tal of 14.2 mil­lion

KCR SAYS HIS PARTY WILL NOT SEEK VOTES IN 2019 IF MIS­SION BHAGIRATHA FAILS

acres land un­der cul­ti­va­tion, the state gov­ern­ment will have to pro­vide for Rs 5,685 crore to 7.2 mil­lion farm­ers as ‘in­vest­ment sup­port to agri­cul­ture’ ev­ery crop­ping sea­son.

This is not all. Work is un­der way on draft­ing a new law that will give greater power and funds to the pan­chay­ats. The new law will make reg­u­lar and time­bound gram sabha meet­ings manda­tory while giv­ing them di­rect ac­cess to funds for drink­ing wa­ter, do­mes­tic power sup­ply, san­i­ta­tion and street light­ing. And in or­der to make the vil­lage coun­cils more rep­re­sen­ta­tive, mem­bers will be co-opted from other lo­cal bod­ies, in­clud­ing co­op­er­a­tive so­ci­eties and the var­i­ous lo­cal self-help groups.

KCR also plans to hold pan­chayat elec­tions later this year as a ‘test run’ for the assem­bly polls in 2019.

IN POLL MODE The CM in­spect­ing work at the Sundilla bar­rage

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