Naidu urged to ground pumping scheme

VISAKHAPATNAM DEC. 4. An all-party meeting in Visakhapatnam on Wednesday demanded immediate implementation of the Godavari waters lift scheme to Yeleswaram reservoir on a war-footing within 60 days through the nomination method without calling for tenders as was done to provide drinking water to Tirumala two years ago from Kalyani dam through pipeline.

The AP Congress Committee president, M. Satyanarayana Rao, and the Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, at a press conference on Wednesday wanted the Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu, to call an all-party meeting in Hyderabad to brief them on the current situation and announce the grounding of the Rs. 330-crore pumping scheme as a temporary solution.

Both Congress leaders along with the deputy convener of the CPI State committee, K. Narayana, the Mayor, Rajana Ramani, the APCC general secretary, Sabbam Hari, and others met the Congress general secretary, Konathala Ramakrishna, at the Central Prison.

Mr. Ramakrishna broke his three-day fast in the morning in the jail premises after Mr. Satyanarayana Rao gave him a glass of milk.

(The former Anakapalle MP has been spearheading the agitation on behalf of the farmers demanding release of Raiwada water for 10 days for irrigation so that their standing crop could be saved through one more wetting. Water is now being released for irrigation following the District Collector's directive).

"The entire issue has been mishandled by the District Collector, who has remained silent in the face of such a deep crisis,'' said the APCC chief, and added that "the Collector could have arranged a meeting of the Municipal Corporation and farmers' representatives to avoid the kind of agitations witnessed a couple of days ago, where even firing was resorted to.''

Mr. Ramakrishna, who was arrested for trying to open the reservoir locks and produced in the court which remanded him to custody till Sunday, told the leaders at the prison that he was not against supply of water to Visakhapatnam city and would fight for their cause also after coming out.

An all-party public meeting was organised at K. Kotapadu in the afternoon to strengthen the farmers' stand and also explain to them the drinking water requirement in the city.

The lift pumping project involves laying of a 52-km pipeline from the Godavari at Katheru village upstream of Dowlaiswaram to Yeleswaram reservoir to allow water to come to Visakhapatnam through the Yeleru Left Main Canal by gravity which, the Congress feels, is the only viable and fast short-term project that could be implemented.

The APCC chief foresaw more such agitations throughout the State in the days to come, which was a result of lack of planning on the part of the State Government.

There were no drinking water projects taken up in the past 10 years, though this problem had existed throughout that period, he pointed out.

The ayacutdars of the Nagarjunasagar could be the next to begin agitation for water once the source dried up, Mr. Rao said, and wanted the Government to compensate in full if the farmers lost their crop now as they had sown only after an assurance was given by it.

Dr. Reddy said that the Opposition would cooperate with the Government fully if it came forward to implement this project on a nomination basis, and criticised the TDP for not implementing any new project during its regime though it had borrowed Rs. 32,000 crores spending most of it on non-productive schemes.

The city Congress president, Dronamraju Srinivas, wanted the Government to plan for drinking water needs of the city for next 20 years.

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