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
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