It is but natural for any government to go through mid-term blues. And for the All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam regime, which completes two years on Thursday, the problems arose in two areas of vital importance to the people: water and electricity.
With the failure of the southwest monsoon last year, the Cauvery controversy came back to haunt the two principal States – Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. The problem of power cuts, whose origins could be traced to the spell of the previous Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam (DMK) regime, assumed more serious proportions as most parts of the State went without power supply for over 12 hours in several months of the last one year.
On the water front, though the State received much less Cauvery water than its due, the government promptly came out with packages of measures to help farmers tide over the crisis. The payment of compensation of Rs. 542 crore to around 3.5 lakh farmers in the Cauvery delta districts was an important element of the government intervention. “Although this was a token payment, the government’s move needs to be appreciated as it has mitigated the stress on the farmers to a certain extent,” says Maria Saleth, Director of the Madras Institute of Development Studies (MIDS).
In an otherwise depressing year, the publication of the final order of the Cauvery Water Disputes Tribunal in the Union gazette brought great cheer to the government and farmers.
In addition to the delta farmers, about 18 lakh farmers in the non-Cauvery delta districts have been sanctioned compensation to the tune of Rs. 836 crore.
But, it is in the area of power supply that the authorities have not been able to provide any palpable relief to the public. “The shortage of electricity was one of the major issues on which this government captured power two years ago. The situation on the supply side has only worsened since then,” Gnani, political commentator, says. However, what is felt in the government circles is that many power projects, which are at different stages of execution, will fructify by the end of this year. On the side of the renewable energy, the promotion of solar energy is being done in a big way.
Lack of tangible action in respect of infrastructure projects is being talked of as an area of major concern. When this government assumed office in May 2011, it announced that Mono Rail would be its flagship project. But, the project has remained a non-starter.
A senior official, however, points out that institutional framework for public private partnership projects has been put in place with the constitution of the infrastructure development board, budgetary allocations and the framing of rules. It is a matter of time before big projects fructify.
Apart from these issues, it was the Sri Lankan Tamils question that occupied the centrestage for weeks, leading to significant political developments, both at the Centre and in the State. Perhaps after a gap of over 45 years, the student community almost rose in unison and conducted a series of agitations across the State. The AIADMK government, while reiterating its stand on the issue, got a resolution adopted in the Assembly, urging the Centre to move a resolution in the United Nations Security Council seeking various measures against Sri Lanka, including a referendum on creation of Eelam.
The State witnessed violent events in Dharmapuri district and at Marakkanam in Villupuram district, targeting Dalits. A senior Minister, on the condition of anonymity, attributes these attempts by certain elements to break law and order for political gains, which the Chief Minister handled firmly.
While the government’s handling has a reassuring effect, a seasoned policymaker says that the administration should not lose sight of economic progress. At a time when there is economic slowdown, the government should go in for joint ventures, taking a sizable share – 49 per cent — in such projects. And, of course, there must be a clear-cut exit policy as it is not the business of the government to stick on to projects permanently.