December 4, Gooty, Anantapur district
I was overwhelmed by the affectionate and heartwarming welcome by thousands of people as I entered Anantapur on Monday. A little-known fact about Anantapur is that it receives the scantiest rainfall in the country next only to Jaisalmer in Rajasthan. The troubles, travails and the backwardness of the place have brought people together to stand by each other, and have also heightened their level of political awareness. The district could therefore, produce political stalwarts like Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy and Tarimela Nagireddy.
Addressing the drought problem in Anantapur is not an impossible task. Keeping in mind this objective, my late father had initiated work on projects like Handri Neeva. Most of the work on these projects had been completed during his time. However, the Chandrababu Naidu government couldn't be bothered in the least when it comes to finishing the project. Phase I of the Handri Neeva is almost complete and if the network of distributaries gets over, it can irrigate 118000 acres of land and can turn this district into a lush green region. I had put forth this idea during the Rythu Dharna that I addressed in the aftermath of 2014 elections. But there seems to be little or no progress in this direction.
What is worse is that instead of focusing on long-term and permanent steps to end drought, the Government has resorted to token measures like the use of rain guns which have no impact worth the name. The government had spent hundreds of crores of rupees last year for the procurement and maintenance of rain guns. After all this, it could barely save a few hundred acres. Rain guns had helped fill the pockets of a chosen few from the ruling party, but did not help agriculture in the district in any significant measure. Nothing testifies to this more eloquently than the fact that the government had to declare virtually every mandal in the district as drought-hit, despite the fact that it had spent crores of rupees on the procurement and maintenance of these rain guns.
Women in Gooty told me that despite abundant rainfall, paradoxically enough, there was acute water shortage in the area. Water is being supplied just twice a week. What’s shocking is the fact that the SC Colony is deprived of this minimal supply of water. The reason? The government suspects that the inhabitants of this area had voted for the YSRCP in the last elections. This apathy on the government's part left me dumbfounded. Resorting to petty politics even over the supply of safe drinking water is downright inhuman. This government is plumbing the depths of political immorality by resorting to such cheap politics. This is reflected also in the sanctioning of toilets that protect the dignity of people. It is the women who bear the brunt of such partisan policies. The ruling party’s abominable behavior in a parched town like Gooty is downright despicable.
I have a question for the Chief Minister!! You had promised in the run-up to the 2014 elections to provide safe drinking water through the NTR Sujala Sravanthi scheme to every household in the 46000 habitations in the state. After four years of your governance, has the figure reached even a three digit mark?