When the state is facing a severe drought that claimed more than hundred lives, Telangana government is all set to celebrate the second foundation day of the state with all extravaganza. The government has allocated Rs. 15 crores for the second anniversary celebration which will be held on June 2. This amount is above the Rs. 30 lakhs it has earlier sanctioned to each district in the state for the same purpose.
According to Telangana Tourism and Cultural Department Secretary B Venkatesham, the state Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao will lay foundation stone for a Martyrs Memorial in Lumbini Park on the day. After that, CM will hoist the tallest flag in India, which will cost around 2 crore.
The Hyderabad city will also witness to a big fireworks show at the Hussain Sagar lake. “We are also illuminating 10 roads in the city with immersive lighting which means when people walk on those roads, they would feel they are a part of the lighting,” Venkatesham said.
Meantime, the state government’s decision to go ahead with such a massive anniversary event has drawn criticism from multiple corner, as the new state is facing from worse drought that put farmers and villager in the state to the trouble. Many of the farmers in the state have either committed suicide or compelled to leave their birthplace due lack of drinking water and extreme heat waves. The Telangana government has already come under severe flak few days back, for granting a whopping salary hike for MLAs and MLCs in the legislative assembly while many debt-ridden farmer of the state opted for killing themselves due to the huge loss in agriculture. The big hike from Rs. 96,000 to Rs. 3.5 lakh has finally landed in the MLAs in the neighboring state Andhra Pradesh asking for the hike in the wage.
Acute drinking water shortage due to drastic fall in water levels in major reservoirs, continuing crisis in agriculture and a harsh summer have made this the worst ever drought in Telangana in living memory.
Reeling under a second successive drought, the country’s youngest state is facing a water crisis, with scarcity hitting not just the villages and towns but even the capital Hyderabad, an information technology hub.
Dependent mostly on rain water, the state of 35 million people is witnessing migration of small farmers and farm workers to cities in other states. An acute shortage of water and fodder is forcing people, especially the farmers, to sell their cattle at throwaway prices.
According to farmers’ organisations, nearly 1.4 million people have migrated from the worst affected districts of Mahabubnagar, Ranga Reddy, Medak, Nizamabad and Adilabad. “The migration is indicative of how terrible the situation is,” A.S. Malla Reddy, vice president of All India Kisan Sabha said. People are mostly migrating to Pune, Mumbai, Bhiwandi, Ahmedabad and Surat looking for work.
Out of 450 mandals or revenue units comprising varying number of villages, 231 have been drought affected. The farmers’ organizations claim that 368 mandals are hit.
The foodgrain production was 6.5 million tonnes in 2015-16 as against the target of 11.1 million tonnes. Rice production was 3.5 million tonnes while the state’s consumption is six million tonnes. The production of pulses and oil seeds also fell drastically.
Works have not started in many villages under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP). And in villages where work is on, labourers are keeping away due to the intense heat.
The labourers have also not been paid their wages, said Malla Reddy. A report released by the Telangana Joint Action Committee (JAC) also pointed out that delays in payment of wages under NREGP were adding to the woes.
The state sought Rs.3,064 crore from the central government for drought relief but New Delhi announced Rs.791 crore. Of this, only Rs.400 crore has been released. The farmers say the disbursement of compensation for crop losses is yet to start. For drinking water supply, the Centre released Rs.72 crore against the state’s request for Rs.555 crore.
Earlier, the state government has come under criticism for hiding heat wave deaths. The officials are giving contradictory figures. According to one official, 45 people have died this season. Unofficial figures put it at 200. “Every day 20-25 people are dying of heat wave,” says Malla Reddy.