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KCR, a Leader Harangued by Circumstance, Visits Farmers

Between his daughter's arrest and the multiple inquiries into his government's decisions, KCR has not been having an easy time. Which could explain his unique outreach exercise.
KCR inspects dried up crops on Friday (April 5). Photo: By arrangement.

Hyderabad: Former Telangana chief minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao who was not particularly known to be accessible to the public in the nine and a half years of his rule visited farmers affected by crop loss due to water shortage this week.

KCR visited a few villages in Jangaon and Suryapet districts on March 31 and in Karimnagar district on April 5.

The timing of his visit was significant. His daughter and MLC K. Kavitha has been in Tihar Jail in New Delhi in the liquor excise case. Kavitha’s request for better facilities were turned down by jail authorities. Besides, the Central Bureau of Investigation was also given permission by a court to question her while she is in judicial custody, after having been arrested by the Enforcement Directorate.

Times are tough for KCR. What may have been even more painful for him to stomach was the prospect of a judicial inquiry headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice Pinaki Chandra Ghose into the irregularities committed by his dispensation.

A delegation comprising the state’s irrigation secretary recently called on Justice Ghose who is also a former Lokpal of India at Kolkata to brief him about arrangements made for the commission to function from the Boorgula Ramakrishna Rao building in Hyderabad.

KCR will also face another judicial inquiry by Justice L. Narasimha Reddy, retired Chief Justice of Patna high court, into charges of irregularities in execution of the Bhadradri and Yadadri thermal power projects and a power purchase agreement with Chhattisgarh government when he was at the helm.

Both the commissions have been given a 100-day timeframe to complete their probes and submit reports.

KCR holds up images of farmers and dried up crops on Friday (April 5). Photo: By arrangement.

The Congress government has stopped short of ordering one more judicial inquiry into a question paper leakage in recruitment exams conducted by State Public Service Commission. But it took stern measures in rescheduling the exams – as ordered by a new panel headed by a retired Director General of Police, M. Mahender Reddy.

As if all this was not enough for KCR, there comes the latest controversy over phone tapping of opposition leaders levelled against his government. In the wake of an outcry, KCR said he would convene a press conference to explain his point.

There were several other issues from the KCR regime which the present government is digging out. These include land transactions over Dharani portal of the government which is being probed by a five-member committee headed by retired IAS officer Raymond Peter, an inquiry into the construction of the new Secretariat building complex and a memorial for martyrs of Telangana statehood movement and complaints of the diversion of sheep under a subsidised scheme.

Then, there is the defection of sitting MPs and MLAs to Congress and BJP ahead of the parliamentary elections. Five sitting MPs and three MLAs have deserted the party and created a void in the respective constituencies. KCR and other senior leaders of BRS have made light of these exits but their impact on the party and its poll wishes have been discussed privately.

Ahead of the launch of his campaign for parliament from Chevella on April 13, KCR set out in a party bus to express solidarity with farmers who lost crops recently. This, he said, was his first outing to nail the new government on it’s several lapses since assuming power. He said he had given the government enough rope to implement its election promises but that it had failed badly.

KCR said he could be leading a march of 50,000 farmers to the Medigadda barrage, a part of the Kaleshwaram lift irrigation project, to highlight the criminal negligence of the government in repairing piers of the barrage which shrunk and led to lengthwise cracks in the cement. He said the government had evacuated a large quantity of water and stopped further storage of river water at the multi-level barrages which triggered trouble for farmers.

The present drought conditions was a man-made disaster. Such conditions prevailed only during the chief ministership of N. Chandrababu Naidu two decades ago, he said.

The same sentiment was expressed by a farmer, Tirupathi Gowd, at Maqdoompur village near Karimnagar during KCR’s visit on April 5. Goud said that the standing crop had never faced a water shortage at this crucial juncture ahead of harvest when the BRS government was in power.

State irrigation minister N. Uttam Kumar Reddy said the National Dam Safety Authority had advised dewatering at the barrages on safety grounds.

He added that the present drought could have been avoided if the original Pranahita Chevella project as conceived by the previous Congress regime was executed at a much lesser cost, instead of Kaleshwaram.

KCR blamed the Congress for inefficiency in handling irrigation and power issues – the source of distress for farmers. He warned that he will stay put at Medigadda and himself operate pumps to lift water to fill connected reservoirs. He will lead a retaliation by farmers if the government uses force against them, he also said.

KCR inspects dried up crops on Friday (April 5). Photo: By arrangement.

Accepting the challenge of Chief Minister A. Revanth Reddy to furnish details of the “200 farmers” who died by suicide due to crop loss as claimed by KCR in the last three months, the latter released a list of 209 names. However, Uttam Kumar Reddy has rubbished the list as false.

Reddy and two other ministers, Jupally Krishna Rao and Ponnam Prabhakar, also took exception to the language used by KCR in his criticism of the government.

KCR has meanwhile demanded an ex gratia of Rs 25 lakh to the bereaved families and payment of Rs 25,000 per acre for crop loss.

A Congress MLA Medipalli Satyam has countered this by saying that when he was in power, KCR had “ditched farmers” after promising Rs 10,000 as compensation for crop loss due to unseasonal rains in Choppadandi of Karimnagar last year.

A farmer Kunsothu Sattamma told KCR at Dharavath Thanda of Jangaon district that all four borewells in her four-and-a-half acre agricultural plot had dried up. She spent Rs two lakh to drill each of them. Her paddy crop was entirely dry and cracks showed up in the soil.

Another farmer Banoth Kishan said two acres of paddy he grew was completely lost. He said he did not expect to recover a yield more than five to 10 quintals against the normal 40 quintals in his remaining two acres.

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