Hyderabad: The real fruit of the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Scheme (KLIS) will become clearly visible in a year from now, Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao said. Instead of criticising it for the sake of criticism, naysayers should understand how the project design helps Telangana harness water, and make the best use of it to provide assured irrigation to 40 lakh to 45 lakh acres during the two primary crop seasons, he said.
Calling on critics to hold on to their horses, the Chief Minister told the Legislative Assembly that currently the various components of the project were undergoing trial runs. It is a complex project, with extensive engineering work.
Every system and sub-system — be it the way the electric sub-stations function or how the motors in the pumphouses are run — have to be checked, he said.
The Chief Minister said KLIS was not something that was built just like that, but after extensive study and planning. For instance, the motors at the different pumping stations can run at a stretch for six months, he explained.
All it takes is two good crop seasons in the areas to be served by the project to realise the entire project cost (of about Rs 80,000 crore). The results will be there for all to see in about a year. And farmers will be rid of their seasonal worries, he said.
The Chief Minister also distributed a booklet containing all official clearances for KLIS to the members with the permission of Speaker Pocharam Srinivas Reddy. “It is important to understand how we arrived at implementing the project and how water availability was established. I urge all members to read the documents and understand their contents,” he said.
The Chief Minister also instructed officials to send the complete Detailed Project Report (DPR) on Kaleshwaram to Congress Legislature Party leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka as sought by the Opposition leader. “There is no secret. You will be sent a copy of the DPR,” the Chief Minister said.
He said the Pranahita-Chevella project, as proposed by the then Congress government with a barrage at Tummidihatti, did not receive Central Water Commission (CWC) clearances. The site chosen then did not even have adequate established flows. “The CWC made it clear that it would not permit a project of the nature we wanted at the locations chosen earlier by the then Congress government. It asked us to present alternative proposals. It was after exhaustive surveys and studies that the location near Medigadda was chosen to build the primary barrage of the project on the Godavari river. This was to harness the most productive of the river’s tributaries, Pranahita. The result is already there for everyone to see. Godavari is full over its course over 100 km upstream of the barrage,” he explained.
“We will harness 570 TMCft of water in all from the project. The presence of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh Chief Ministers along with former Governor ESL Narasimhan for the project inauguration was to establish Telangana’s right to use this water,” he said.
‘Budget chalked out keeping in mind financial situation’
Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao on Sunday reiterated that the annual State Budget is a reflection of the realities of the overall economic condition in the country.
The overall reduction in the annual Budget by about Rs 30,000 crore from the total projected in the vote-on-account Budget was done keeping in mind the current financial conditions, he said. Replying to the general discussion on the Budget in the Assembly, the Chief Minister said if all that the State government wanted was to project itself as a big spender, adding another Rs 10,000 crore to the Budget figures would not have been a difficult thing to do.
“But that is not who we are,” he said.
The Chief Minister also clarified that when the government presented the vote-on-account Budget, it was after detailed discussions with the Finance Department. “Since elections were to follow, the view was that a full-fledged Budget should not be presented that might lock in some restrictions on the next government to follow. That would be an unethical thing to do. That was why we chose to present a vote-on-account Budget earlier this year. But, the nomenclature does not make any difference. A budget is a budget,” Chandrashekhar Rao said.
He said the 5 per cent growth rate in the country was a matter of concern and all discussions by economists, financial experts and academicians point to the way things are in the country right now. “Despite all challenges,
Telangana achieved a 21 per cent cumulative growth rate. We are one among the six or seven States that powers the nation. By developing itself, Telangana is contributing to the development of the nation,” he said.
The Chief Minister, responding to points raised by Congress Legislature Party leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, assured the House that there was no cause for worry over the loans the State has to service and pay back. “If taking loans was an issue, the Centre, which has loans of more than 40 per cent, would have a much bigger problem than Telangana. We follow FRBM norms and keep them at the approved 25 per cent of the State’s GDP. We make our payments without a single default. In fact, the bond market does not normally welcome those with long-term maturity. But, Telangana’s bonds, even that have a 25-year maturity period, are sold like hot cakes,” he said.
Explaining the state of loans Telangana has, the Chief Minister said: “Of the State’s outstanding, Rs 75,000 crore was legacy loans, which Telangana inherited from erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. We brought this amount down to Rs 69,000 crore. It is wrong of the Opposition to claim that Telangana’s loans are at Rs 3 lakh crore”.
He then said adding guarantees that the government provides to Markfed or Civil Supplies Corporation to the loans of the State is incorrect. Any such guarantee is to provide confidence to the lenders that the State has faith in its organisations, which have their own accounts and are responsible for repaying their loans, the Chief Minister said.
The Chief Minister assured the House that the government will keep its election promises, be it the increased welfare pensions, Rs 1 lakh loan waiver to farmers or implementation of its various other schemes. Addressing concerns raised by AIMIM members on spending of Budget allocated for minorities’ welfare, the Chief Minister said every effort will be made to fully use the funds allocated for the purpose.
CM contrite over harsh reaction
Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao on Sunday told the Legislative Assembly that he should not have allowed Opposition’s comments affect his composure, which resulted in him reacting in a harsh manner on Saturday in the House.
He was referring to his response to observations made by Congress Legislature Party leader Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka on KLIS. “Yesterday (Saturday), I got a little angry. I agree with Vikramarka who pointed this out. I should not have reacted like that,” the Chief Minister said.
On Sunday, Chandrashekhar Rao, more than once during his reply to the discussion on Budget, mentioned how his reaction should have been toned down. “But, it was about Kaleshwaram project on which we toiled with our blood and sweat. But, my reaction should not have been like what it was,” he said.
Speaking on spending of Special Development Fund (SDF) for SCs and STs, the Chief Minister agreed with Vikramarka that silence from officials to the CLP leader’s letter seeking spending details six months ago would naturally lead to doubts.” I instructed officials to immediately provide you with the details you sought,” he told Vikramarka.
Chandrashekhar Rao also appealed to Vikramarka to take the lead in vetting the SDF usage and assured the House that not a single Rupee was misused. “The House Committee on the subject should meet, call all officials and go through the details how SDF has been used over the past three years. If there are mistakes, we will take action. I urge Vikramarka to take an active role in this exercise,” he said. “We have the responsibility to ensure Dalit development as the community had been suppressed for so long,” he added.
The Chief Minister also called on Vikramarka to take an aerial tour and field visit to the proposed Dummagudem irrigation project and related sites along with Irrigation officials to see for himself how the proposals pan out in the field. “If your suggestions are better, we will make the project plans accordingly. We will finalise the plans only after taking into confidence all parties,” he said.
Payment of loan waiver details to be out soon
The State government will soon finalise details of payments for farm loan waiver of up to Rs 1 lakh, Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao said on Sunday. He urged farmers to renew their crop loans and said within a fortnight or so, farmers will receive letters about the amount of waiver they are eligible for.
The government allocated Rs 6,000 crore towards farm loan waiver in the Budget. It was exploring the possibility of providing the waiver installments directly to farmers. “We will keep our promise of the loan waiver. Farmers should have no cause for anxiety on this issue,” he said.
Separate session for new Revenue Act likely
The government will hold an additional short session of the Legislature, if required, after the Budget session to discuss in threadbare details of the proposed Revenue Act, Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao said on Sunday in the Assembly.
With the current session expected to end on September 22 and the discussions focused on the Budget, there might not be enough time to discuss the proposed Act in detail. “With the Speaker’s permission, we can hold a short week-long session to discuss the Act, which is aimed at comprehensive revamp of the Revenue Department, its functioning and eliminate corruption,” the Chief Minister said.