FIFTY years of AP’s history shows that the economic development process has marginalized the Telangana region of the State. Before the merger with Andhra State, Telangana, which was part of the Hyderabad State, was doing well in terms of agricultural and industrial development.
But the process of development has been disrupted, ironically, by the policies pursued by the successive governments of Andhra Pradesh, formed with the merger of Telangana and Andhra State.
The irrigation policies illustrate the discrimination against Telangana. The governments in AP gave high priority to irrigation in the five-year plans and Rs 12,104 crore was spent on it between 1956 and 2002. This constitutes nearly 25 per cent of the total plan outlay from the II Plan to IX Plan. As a consequence net irrigated area increased from 27.47 lakh hectares to 55 lakh hectares between 1955-56 and 2001-02. A lion’s share, 90 per cent, in the public expenditure on irrigation was allocated for major and medium irrigation and minor irrigation received only 10 per cent of the allocation. This policy has resulted in the decline of the minor irrigation particularly tank irrigation and consequently the net area under tank irrigation declined from 10.68 lakh hectares to 5.67 lakh hectares between 1955-56 and 2001-02. In contrast the net area irrigated by canals has gone up from 12.92 lakh hectares to 15 lakh hectares between 1955- 56 and 2001-2002. The deterioration of the tank irrigation system has an adverse affect on Telangana more than the other regions because tanks have been the backbone of Telangana agriculture. Further, the loss of the area under the tank irrigation has not been compensated by allocation of river waters.
In fact the benefits of major irrigation have gone to coastal Andhra. In 2003-04, 6.93 lakh hectares of area irrigated under canals was located in four coastal districts of the State - East Godavari, West Godavari, Krishna and Guntur.
The corresponding figure for 2004-05 is 8.34 lakh hectares.
Nearly 60 per cent of the net area irrigated under canals is located in these four districts and the balance 40 per cent is shared by the other 18 districts. For example in the nine Telangana districts the area irrigated under canals in 2003- 04 was 1.36 lakh hectares which fell to 1.16 lakh hectares in 2004-05. Even under Jalayagnam the discrimination continues, 26 projects are contemplated under the Jalayagnam to irrigate 59 lakh hectares of which 43 lakh hectares will be in Andhra region and only 16 lakh hectares in Telangana.
Almost all the projects being taken up in Telangana are lift irrigation schemes under which only drip and sprinkler irrigation is permitted, according to the latest policies of the Government. Under drip and sprinkler irrigation the farmers will have to invest heavy amounts to get the benefits of irrigation.
The neglect of irrigation in Telangana has forced the farmers in the region to rely more on well irrigation. The area irrigated by wells has gone from 2.34 lakh hectares to 19 lakh hectares between 1955-56 and 1999-2000 in the State. In Telangana the area under well irrigation went up from 9.44 lakh hectares in 2003-04 to 9.95 lakh hectares in 2004-05. (See “An Outline of Agricultural Situation in AP 2004-05”).
For each acre of land irrigated by surface irrigation 2.38 acres is irrigated by ground water in Rayalaseema and in Telangana the corresponding figure is 2.75 acres. Whereas in coastal districts only 0.28 acres is irrigated under wells for every acre irrigated by canals. (S. Subrahmanyam, 2002).
The heavy dependence on ground water has resulted in fall in the ground water table in Telangana as a consequence the traditional dug wells have dried up. Farmers have shifted to deep bore wells, which require energised motors, to draw water. As a result dependence on electricity has increased in the Telangana districts. All these has forced the farmers to invest huge amounts, from agriculture surpluses, to secure irrigation facilities leading to a major crisis in the agrarian economy of the region.
At the time of merger of Telangana with Andhra State certain safeguards were guaranteed to Telangana through a Gentlemen’s Agreement. As per the agreement Telangana resources have to be utilized for the development of the region in accordance with the plans prepared by the representatives of the region. If the agreement were to be seriously implemented all the schemes proposed by the Hyderabad Government too would have been constructed to divert nearly 1,000 tmcs of Krishna and Godavari water to irrigate the fields in the region. Today, on record, Telangana gets a mere 277 tmc of water, which is far less in reality. If the Jalyagnam is implemented Telangana will lose its share in the river water permanently. The same situation prevails in the other sector too.
Telangana is thus marginalized and converted into an internal colony as a result of economic development process pursued by the successive governments. Its resources are diverted and utilized for the development of other regions.
The movement for separate statehood articulates the demand for a fair share in the resources.
Prof M Kodandaram, President, Telangana Vidyavanthula Vedika