File photo shows tribals from Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha staging “Jala deeksha” at Godavari-Sabari river Sangamam in Kunavaram, Khammam District, against the Polavaram project. Photo: G.N.RAO
File photo shows tribals from Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha staging “Jala deeksha” at Godavari-Sabari river Sangamam in Kunavaram, Khammam District, against the Polavaram project. Photo: G.N.RAO .

Parliament on Monday passed a bill to facilitate transfer of 205 villages spread across seven mandals in the newly formed State of Telangana to the residual state of Andhra Pradesh for the multi-purpose Polavaram irrigation project.

The bill, approved by Lok Sabha last week, was opposed by members of the House from Telangana and the States of Odisha and Chattisgarh on the plea that it would cause unwarranted displacement of 52 thousand scheduled caste families from the three States.

Within days after taking reigns of office the Narendra Modi had recommend promulgation of an ordinance to ensure transfer of villages before the creation of the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh on June 2.

The measure was necessitated as the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, as approved by Parliament during the Manmohan Singh regime, did not include the provision on transfer of the villages as consensus on the subject emerged after the bill was crafted.

Though the ordinance and the consequent bill was on the basis of a policy decision by the UPA government, in both houses of Parliament Congress members from Telangana voiced their opposition.

In his reply to the debate in the upper house the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh assured that the centre would take all possible steps for rehabilitation and resettlement of the affected people.

In the course of the debate Congress member and former Union Minister Jairam Ramesh, who was one of the key ministers who oversaw creation of Telangana, got into heated exchanges from the members of his own party from the state of Telangana.

Countering the argument of the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and others opposed to the Ordinance, the Home Minister said that government has not violated any constitutional norm while bringing the bill.

The TRS members had moved a statutory resolution rejecting the ordinance on the ground that there was no justification for the move since Parliament was slated to meet in a few days before promulgation of the Ordinance.

The Minister explained that immediate action was necessary to revise the territories of the two successor States before the appointed day of June 2 on which day the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 came into force.

Mr. Ramesh in his speech said, “This is an important commitment made by the erstwhile UPA government which has been continued by the present government. The continuity in policy reflects democratic politics.

“I have no hesitation in saying that the amendment bill moved by the present government is word by word same as decided on March 1st. Contours of the draft made by UPA-II have been included in the bill”.

Mr. Ramesh was repeatedly interrupted by his party colleagues V Hanumantha Rao and Ananda Bhaskar Rapolu as also TRS member K Keshava Rao.

“I do not need sermons from my colleagues from Telangana. This decision was taken in difficult circumstances. Please remember, the issue of Hyderabad was a litmus test for Telangana. For Andhra Pradesh, this project is an emotional issue”, he maintained.

He said that the project is “not an easy project” to implement as it involves massive resettlement. “It is on par with Sardar Sarovar Dam (in Gujarat) and Indira Sagar project in Madhya Pradesh. It brings major benefits, it also involves substantial resettlement.”

Kalpataru Das (BJD) opposed the bill saying, “We are not opposed to Polavaram project. We are opposing the way it is pushed.” He suggested that the government should call a meeting of chief ministers of Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Seemandhra and Telangana to find a solution.

Speaking in favour of the bill the bill, C M Ramesh (TDP) attacked TRS for taking “political mileage” by opposing the bill on Polavaram project. “We are not making politics, they are. All that we want is that there should not be any hurdle for the project.”

Opposing the Bill Renuka Chowdhury (Cong) demanded an alternative solution as the project will displace lakhs of tribals and inundate several taluks.

“This Bill should not be passed at the cost of tribals of Telangana and the Khamman district. The entire Bhadrachalam town and the temple of Lord Ram will also be submerged,” she said.

D Raja (CPI) suggested that the new Land Acquisition Act should be applied for resettlement and rehabilitation of the affected people.

Read more here- http://www.thehindu.com/news/national/parliament-passes-bill-on-polavaram-project/article6210089.ece#.