The Hindu has argued editorially that a just and sustainable solution to the Telangana issue can be found within an undivided Andhra Pradesh. Here is an Op-Ed article by a BJP legislator that presents a contra-argument.
In the winter of 1953, the Fazal Ali Commission was set up to reorganise the States of the Indian Republic. Its recommendation to go about creating States on linguistic lines, indirectly paved the way for the creation of Andhra Pradesh. Andhra was formed from the northern districts of the erstwhile Madras state and the southern districts of the erstwhile Hyderabad state -- though the committee itself did not advocate such a merger and was against it.
Fifty-six winters later, the very concept of the creation of States based on linguistic lines has become passé. We need to look for fresh parameters for the creation of States, and that has to be based on holistic development on economic and social lines for better administration and management. This fact has been proven with the creation of Chhattisgarh from Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand from Bihar and Uttaranchal from Uttar Pradesh.
Two issues that seem to be at the centre of the contention between the two regions of Andhra Pradesh is the future of Hyderabad and the repercussions in terms of the sharing of river waters from the completed and planned irrigation projects after the division of the State. Any entity, political or otherwise, that is able to find pragmatic solutions to this conundrum would not only earn the respect of the people of the State but also help set a precedent in the matter of contentious State divisions in the future.
Economics of small States
The case for small States can be argued with two parameters of macroeconomic statistics from the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. The first parameter is the percentage increase in Gross Domestic Product for States between 1999-2000, when the smaller States were created, and 2007-2008. India’s overall GDP increased by 75 per cent during this time period. During the same period, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttaranchal recorded more than 100 per cent, 150 per cent and 180 per cent increase respectively. These rates were much above the rate at which national GDP increased. This clearly indicates that the recent creation of smaller States was a step in the right direction.
Experts have often argued that the creation of smaller States has been at the expense of the States they were created from. For all its lack of governance, Uttar Pradesh grew by more than 21 per cent of the national average during this time period.
The second parameter, the percentage contribution of States to national GDP, helps negate the myth of smaller States growing at the expense of the States they are created from. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh each contributed the same amount to national GDP. While the contributions of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh increased by 0.01 per cent and 0.06 per cent respectively, Uttar Pradesh’s contribution to national GDP increased by 1.2 per cent during the same time period. This is more than Chhattisgarh’s percentage increase in the contribution of 0.64 per cent to national GDP, the highest increase among the three newly created smaller States.
Hyderabad is an integral part of Telangana and a Telangana State without Hyderabad as the capital is inconceivable. However, the militant rhetoric of some political parties has made people of other areas feel unwelcome, creating an air of mistrust among the Telugu-speaking people of various regions. This is not only constitutionally illegal but also extremely foolish as it affects the image of Brand Hyderabad. Everybody who has come to Hyderabad in search of a better quality of life must be protected. Rhetorical slogans such as Telangana waalon jaago, Andhra waalon bhago gives the impression of an exclusionist movement that forces people of the non-Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh out of Hyderabad rather than a movement where the people of Telangana want greater autonomy for their region. Significantly, when Maharashtra and Gujarat were created from the then Bombay state on the recommendation of the States Reorganisation Commission, there was fear about Mumbai losing its importance as a financial nerve-centre as a lot of investment in Mumbai had been made by Gujarati business people. The creation of two separate States did not halt Mumbai’s rapid development. In fact, it additionally paved the way for the development of Ahmedabad and Surat as alternative financial centres. Hyderabad can emulate the same model. As in the past 400 years, the city can continue to welcome people with open arms rather than close its gates to fresh talent and creative ideas.
The people of the Andhra and Rayalaseema regions feel that the benefits reaped from Hyderabad must be accessible to all those who have been equal stakeholders in the city’s development. The solution to this is not alternative models such as according Hyderabad the status of a Union Territory or making Hyderabad a joint capital for the States carved out of present-day Andhra Pradesh. These solutions are just not practical. A better approach would be to plan a special financial package for the development of a new State capital for the non-Telangana region. Pragmatism would dictate that the special package be funded through some form of cess on the city of Hyderabad for a limited period rather than running to large financial institutions for loans, as has been proposed by some political entities.
Social dynamics of water
About 70 per cent of the catchment area of the Krishna and close to 80 per cent of the catchment area of the Godavari is located in the Telangana region. Across the world, water distribution and sharing schemes between two areas is calculated on the basis of the percentage of the catchment area that lies in the region. Other factors that influence water-sharing accords is the population of a given region, the projected usage of water for industry and the domestic population, and the physical contours of the region through which the river flows.
Take the instance of the Godavari, where the areas planned for large dams in the Telangana have not been found feasible for various reasons. As the Sriramsagar project on the Godavari already exists, it is not feasible to build another large dam on the Godavari until after the Pranahitha tributary joins the Godavari. There is not enough water to be harnessed on a continuous basis for the project to be economically feasible if the dam is built before the Pranahitha joins the main river. The Inchampally project, a national project whose benefits are to be shared between the States of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, was one such large project that was proposed. Though the project was conceived a long time ago, it has run into typical issues that are usually associated with projects that have multiple States as stakeholders. Though Andhra Pradesh, by large, is the main beneficiary of the project, the project plan estimates more forest land being submerged in Maharashtra (47.7 per cent) than in Andhra Pradesh (29.9 per cent; all land in Telangana). An equal amount of cultivable land will be submerged in Chhattisgarh (41.8 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (42.2 per cent; all land in Telangana). And, more villages that belong to Maharashtra (100) will be submerged as compared to Andhra Pradesh (65). This has obviously made the other States reluctant to move as quickly as Andhra Pradesh on this project.
The link canal that has been planned between Inchampally and Nagarjuna Sagar that is proposed to irrigate the regions of Telangana in between also involves prohibitive costs as a result of the 107-metre lift that is required for the water to reach the Nagarjuna Sagar. The lift itself will require a separate hydro-electric power project for the project to be feasible. Commonsense and pragmatism would have ensured that a project in Kanthamapalli or Kaleswaram be pursued. Additionally, three smaller step- dams between Yellampalli and Sriramsagar must be devised with a realistic State-level river-interlinking plan. Inchampally is not an exception, but the trend in how political leaders across the aisle in Telangana have been caught up in the big-projects-to-line-my-pockets mentality at the cost of the development of the region by looking at smaller, realistic projects to execute.
The Telangana agitation is the only such movement in India that involves a capital city located in the region that is fighting for separation from the main State. This clearly reflects on the lack of governance and civic administration in this area as the benefits of having a State capital in the hinterland have not trickled down to other areas in that region.
Smaller States still need a good and vibrant administration to be recipes for success. Chhattisgarh is a fine example of how an effective administration could turn around a State in all aspects of development. The development that has happened in the Chhattisgarh region from Independence till 2000 has in fact been less than the development that has taken place from the time a new State was created in 2000 till now. The first Telangana Chief Minister would have done a great service to the infant State should he take a prescription from Chhattisgarh’s most famous Ayurvedic doctor.
(G. Kishan Reddy is the floor leader of the BJP in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly. The data and statistical inputs in this article are from Yudofud Public Strategies, www.yudofud.com.)