Farmers Saw An Apara Bhageeradha In YS Rajasekhara Reddy

 - Sakshi Post

YS Rajasekhara Reddy was always determined to change the fate of farmers in the state. With a natural and deep-rooted connect with farming, he left even his critics stunned when he embarked on a Herculean task of constructing a host of long-pending irrigation projects based on regional needs. This showed his commitment to reversing the fortunes of the farmers and once again making agriculture a profitable proposition by providing adequate water for irrigation needs.

When he announced Jalayagnam, the mammoth task of constructing a host of irrigation projects which no chief minister before him had ever dared to even think of, his critics were skeptical but the entire farming community saw an ‘Apara Bhageeradha’ in YSR

He sketched out plans to overcome all the stumbling blocks to solve the agrarian crisis in the state's drought-prone and backward regions. YSR’s natural trait of treating everyone as the same and working for everyone’s welfare truly reflected in the way he ruled the state. YSR, a kind-hearted personality, constantly came up with innovative schemes to benefit the farmers. He knew that the agriculture sector is the backbone of the Indian economy. YSR always believed that 'If the farmer is happy then the entire nation is happy" and he was also moved by the spate of farmers’ suicides of the farmers in the state during his predecessor’s rule.

He believed that water, as the most abundant natural resource, needed to be harnessed properly and the process of planning, developing, and managing water resources would help the development of the state. The scarcity of water resulted in regional inequalities and political turmoil. In a nutshell, water and irrigation needs have become the great divider across regions.

Long before he became the Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh, YS Rajashekara Reddy was inspired by former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru’s description of irrigation projects as the ‘modern temples of India’. YSR's government wanted to tap floodwaters to serve the parched regions of Telangana and Rayalaseema.

YSR had launched 'Jalayagnam', an ambitious project aimed at providing adequate irrigation facilities across the state. He kept his poll promise to the farmers of the state to bring 8.2 million acres of agricultural lands under irrigation in five years. The irrigation development programme was a part of a lasting solution to the ailing agriculture sector in the state.

Under the mega irrigation scheme, 86 projects are to be constructed at a cost of Rs 1.86 lakh crore mainly on the Krishna, Godavari and Penna rivers and their tributaries. It aimed at providing drinking water to one-fourth of the then undivided Andhra Pradesh's population and irrigation to more than half of the state’s rainfed areas. For this purpose, YSR's government had decided to release about Rs 1,400 crore every month to keep the projects going.

The state government had dedicated five irrigation projects in Vizianagaram (Peddagedda – 10,000 acres), Pedderu in Visakhapatnam (10,000), Surampalem in East Godavari (10,000), AMRP in Nalgonda (50,000), Telugu Ganga (1,50,000 acres).

Here is the list of region wise projects that were proposed to be taken up during YSR’s rule - Coastal Andhra: Vamsadhara, Totapalli, Jhanjhavati, Peddagadda, Tarakaramateerthan, Indirasagar (Polavaram), Pushkaram, Tadipudi, Venkatnagaram, Musurumilli, Kovvada Canal, Yerra Canal, K.L.Rao Sagar (Pulichintala), Gundlakamma, Poolasubbaiah Veligonda, Ramateertham, Somasila, Telugu Ganga (Nellore) and Swarnamukhi.
Rayalaseema: Telugu Ganga, Galeru, Nagari, Handrineva, Mylavaram modernization, Yadiki Canal (Penna Ahobilam reservoir second phase), Guru Raghavendra, Narasimharaya Sagar (Gorakallu), Ouvuku, Pulivendla Branch Canal, Chitravati projects.

Telangana: Rajiv project (Bhima), Mahatma Gandhi (Kalwakurthi), Koilsagar, Jawahar (Nettampadu), AMRP, J Chokkarao (Devadula), Sriramsagar flood canal, Sriram Sagar second phase, Sripadasagar (Yellampalli), Alisagar, Arugula Rajaram Gutsa, Neelvai, Ryalivaagu, Gollavagu, Jagannadhpur Peddavagu, Kamavaram Bhim, Dummugudem (Rajiv Sagar and Indirasagar).

However, with the sad demise of YSR, the subsequent governments have failed to take forward the bouquet of projects. Now, his son and current Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh YS Jagan Mohan Reddy promised that he would complete all the pending projects including Polavaram, and reaffirmed his commitment to the Jalayagnam project initiated by his father late YS Rajashekara Reddy.

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