Issues of power supply, drinking water takes centrestage

Minister for Forest Satrucharla Vijayarama Raju and Minister for Law and Courts E. Pratap Reddy launched the Prajapatham programme in Kurnool district at Mahanandi on Monday. Meanwhile, Minister for Minor Irrigation T. G. Venkatesh took part in the Prajapatham in Ward no. 1 in the city.

Addressing the meeting at Mahanandi, Mr. Vijayarama Raju said the district was sanctioned an amount of Rs.140 crore towards input subsidy to farmers who suffered losses during the drought in the previous season.

He promised to allot bamboo to local Chenchu families for their livelihood and asked forest officials to examine the proposal for development of feeder channel to Basapuram tank located in the reserve forest area.

Mr. E. Pratap Reddy said the mandal head quarters would be shifted to Mahanandi from Timmapur soon.

Special Correspondent writes: A complex situation stares at the face of the Chittoor district authorities as the 6th edition of government's much-touted mass-contact programme - Praja Patham began in Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy's native district on Monday.

A range of problems such as acute drinking and irrigation water scarcity, erratic power supply, crippling fodder shortage forcing farmers to turn away their bovines to slaughter houses, glitches in implementation of NREGA resulting in either non-payment or underpayment of wages are looming large over the semi-arid district as authorities are moving into its villages with their paraphernalia to complete a 7-point agenda in the next 15 days.

Rock-bottom level

As for the ground-water level in the district, reports indicate that it has already touched the rock-bottom in 130 villages while the bore wells have gone dry in 50 others forcing government to supply water through tankers.

The situation is equally acute in all municipalities too, including the district headquarters town of Chittoor and temple city of Tirupati. Special schemes which the Chief Minister had ‘showered' on the district to address its ‘water crises' have almost become non-starters.

Power cuts too is having a telling effect on the district which accounts for the largest number of pump sets (2.7 lakhs) in the State in the absence of any reliable river sources for irrigation. Government's promise to provide seven hours of power supply to the agriculture sector has remained a far cry, as in reality it is only four hours per day.

The APSPDCL is also said to be helpless because, if seven hours supply is to be given, it would mean a further cut on cities and towns in the district.

Regarding fodder scarcity, though the department is said to be supplying fodder seeds, farmers are questioning its utility when the wells and bore-wells have gone dry. “What will we do with the seeds when there is no water,” asks the general secretary of the Chittoor district unit of the Kisan Service Organisation, T. Adikesavulu Reddy and said that the government would do well to open cattle camps on war-footing instead of ‘frittering away' its precious funds on ‘Prajapatham' which he alleged was only a ‘publicity stunt'.

While urging the government to prevail upon TTD to conduct ‘Varuna Yagam' to propitiate ‘rain-god', the KSO demanded that the Chief Minister should sanction a Rs.50 crore special package to his native district to help it tackle its bundle of problems.

Special Correspondent adds: Minister for Minority Welfare Mohd. Ahmedullah on Monday assured to ensure seven-hour power supply to farmers by discussing with electricity officials as power cuts were leading to drinking water supply shortage.

The Minister, who participated in Prajapatham meeting in Guvvalacheruvu in Ramapuram mandal, expressed ire at officials when people complained about delay in payment of wages to labourers under NREGS. He directed officials to initiate action against the assistant engineer of Transco for not attending the meeting.