Monday, March 4, 2024

Kishore PoReddy Column: BRS govt should come clean, speak the truth

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The IT Minister, while providing his department’s progress report on the occasion of Telangana entering the tenth year of its formation (DashabdiUtsavalu) claimed that Telangana’s IT & ITES sector centred in Hyderabad, had grown under his stewardship to provide more than 36 lakh jobs – 9 lakhs direct and 27 lakhs indirect to be precise, at a time when the official Telangana State Statistical Abstract (ATLAS) says there are only 34 lakh full-time and part-time workers in Hyderabad, Rangareddy, and Medchal districts combined.

Similarly, the Chief Minister and the ruling Bharat Rashtra Samithi leaders proudly proclaim on every occasion that Telangana, under their two-term rule, has seen unprecedented growth and development unrivalled by any other state in India. Given the mathematically impossible ‘progress,’ the IT Minister had reported, insulting the intelligence of the people of Telangana, it is time the BRS government comes clean and releases official White Papers in the upcoming session of the Assembly. Specifically, people of TS deserve updates on the progress made under the BRS rule over the past nine years on the four fundamental goals for which Telangana’s ‘sakalajanulu’ (all sections) had fought and made sacrifices:neellu, nidhulu, niyaamakaalu and samajikanyayam (water, funds, jobs, and social justice).

On the neellu (water) front, the actions of this government have been baffling. Moves on the Krishna and Godavari waters have been disastrous. On the Krishna waters, the Chief Minister agreed to 299 TMC as TS’ share, while leaving 512 TMC to Andhra Pradesh, though the state had all along claimed 575 TMC as its rightful share. This inexplicable decision and the utter neglect of all pending projects on the Krishna River left southern Telangana high and dry.Regarding Godavari waters, the BRS government had spent more than a lakh crore on the Kaleshwaram project without creating any new ayacut. Like earlier, the farmers in north Telangana, even today, depend on groundwater for irrigating their crops. The fact that Telangana has more than 27 lakh motors pumping water for agricultural needs, including more than 13 lakh motors in the districts supposed to be served by the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation project, is a testimony to the utter failure of this government on the irrigation front.

On the nidhulufront, the Chief Minister should level with the people of Telangana and explain the reasons for the financial crisis in which the state exchequer finds itself. Telangana started with around Rs 60,000 crore debt in 2014. Today, the debt burden has grown almost nine times to more than five lakh crore when budgetary and off-budget debts are accounted for. This has happened while Telangana’s revenue has increased manifold. Telangana is in such dire financial straits that it is not able to pay its employees’ salaries on the first of the month.

The state government cannot pay even small amounts like Rs.1,000 due every month for caretakers who cook mid-day meals for school-going kids – 50,000 of them had to resort to a strike demanding payment of dues only a few weeks back.

It is time for the Chief Minister to release a White Paper detailing the total debt incurred over the past nine years. This number should include not only budgetary debt but also loans guaranteed by the state and taken by public sector corporations, along with debt raised by municipal corporations like the GHMC. For an accurate picture, the report should include outstanding amounts due to various PSUs like the DISCOMs, and the Singareni Collieries Company Limited.

On niyaamakaalufront, KCR came to power promising one job per family. One of the primary goals of achieving Telangana was to fill all vacant government positions with the unemployed drafted from Telangana.

The Biswal Committee reported 1.91 lakh vacancies in the state government. Unfortunately, the total number of employees in the government seems to be lesser today than that recorded on 2 June 2014. Only a White Paper can give an accurate picture and clear nagging doubts.

Finally, a word on the samajikafront. The situation of the state’s weaker and vulnerable sections – women, OBCs, SCs, STs and the poor – has worsened over the nine years of BRS rule.

The absence of women in the first cabinet to the rising atrocities against the girl child, as reflected in the number of POCSO cases registered, discarding of promises made to dalits and tribals, especially those that create sustainable income sources for them like 3 acres of land for dalits and Podu land ownership for tribals, relegating the SC and ST Sub-Plans to paper, coupled with only a symbolic implementation of Dalit Bandhu, all reinforce this belief.

As for BCs, the fact that more than nine lakh applications for subsidised loans are pending with the BC and the MBC corporations due to a lack of fund allocations mirrors the government’s disdainful approach towards backward communities.

Finally, this government discarded or neglected schemes targeting the poor. Examples include the two-bedroom house scheme, KG2PG free education scheme, Aarogyasri and Fee reimbursement schemes.

The disparity the BRS government has shown between the landed and the landless poor regarding welfare measures is criminal. Instead of progressing on the social front, the state has regressed to its feudal roots.

It is time for the BRS government to level with the people of Telangana, as it is unlikely to get another chance anytime soon.

(The author is BJP TS spokesperson)

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