After dilly-dallying for a long time, the state government has decided to hold elections to the Water Users Associations. Chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy on Sunday cleared the file relating to conduct of elections to WUAs.
Polls will be held to 55,528 Territorial Constituencies (TCs) of 10,872 WUAs 342 Distributory Committees (DCs), 61 Medium Project Committees and 25 Major Project Committees (PCs) in the state.
The delay: The term of the elected bodies of WAUs had expired two years ago and the government issued ordinances extending their term.
The government was hesitant to conduct elections to WUAs in the wake of a severe drought and also due to the Jagan factor. Now, with the Congress scoring impressive victories in the local body and co-operative society elections and schemes like interest-free loans to farmers and distribution of Kisan Credit Cards to tenant farmers, the Kiran Kumar Reddy government mustered enough courage to decide to conduct elections.
The structure: The government, while implementing reforms in the water sector as part of economic restructuring, promoted participation of farmers in water management. The erstwhile TDP government had brought in the AP Farmers Management of Irrigation Systems Act 1997 aiming at participatory irrigation management to create a sense of ownership in farmers and also to promote efficient use of water resources. The first election to WUAs was held in June 1997.
The Act covers about one crore acres of irrigated land and 60 lakh farmers. Farmers’ organisations consist of 80,820 TCs, 10,749 WUAs, 342 DCs and 86 PCs in the state. Elections were conducted in 2008. The election to WUAs follows the Rajya Sabha pattern. One-third of those elected retired in January 2010 and another one- third in January 2012. Elections will now held for the two-third vacancies.
Election pattern: With the chief minister giving the green signal, officials are making arrangements to conduct direct elections to two-third vacant TCs i.e. 55,528 . From TCs, indirect elections will be conducted for WUAs and from WUAs of Medium and Major Projects to Distributory Committees (DCs) and Project Committees (PCs). Elections will be held soon to 86 PCs including 25 major Project Committees and 61 Medium Project Committees, 342 Ddistributory Committees (DCs).