States at war: 10 points of discord between Telangana and Andhra
From power purchase agreements to who controls Hyderabad, everything that remains contentious between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Hyderabad: Bitterness, acrimony and sarcasm continue to mark the equations between the newly-formed Telangana and Andhra Pradesh and there seems to be no solution to the simmering conflict between the states as yet. That there is a bit of history between Telangana Rashtra Samithi chief K Chandrasekhara Rao and Telugu Desam Party supremo N Chandrababu Naidu does not make matters any easier.
The trivial issue of allotment of chambers in the state legislative assembly building, from where both assemblies are functioning from two different halls, triggered a confrontation between the two as late as on Friday. The issue has now reached the portals of Raj Bhavan for a resolution. A few days earlier, the amendment to the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 that was passed by voice vote in both Houses of Parliament led to a flare-up of tension between the states. Seven mandals identified to be submerged under the Polavaram project were removed from Telangana and merged with Andhra Pradesh through the amendment. This was opposed by the TRS. It gave a bandh call and enforced it last week.
Why are the states at war? Here are the points of discord.
1. While Telangana has a full-fledged state capital, Andhra Pradesh doesn’t have one. It is still struggling to identify a suitable location for its seat of power. Losing Hyderabad to Telangana still hurts sentiments in the state.
2. Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has been insisting on the enforcement of Governor's powers under Rule 8 of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2014. The Union Home Secretary Anil Goswami, who convened a meeting of the chief secretaries of the two states on Thursday, reportedly vetoed the contention of the Andhra Pradesh government seeking more powers for the Governor with regard to police administration in the state capital. The chief secretary of Telangana had strongly opposed this and said whatever was incorporated in the AP Reorganisation Act was enough and both states had to abide by that.
3. The Telangana government’s decision to impose the rule that only wards of those who settled down in Telangana before 1956 are eligible for financial assistance to pursue higher education in professional colleges has irked many migrant families from Andhra Pradesh. KCR asserted that it was for the Andhra Pradesh government to reimburse the fee of its students and said: “When the government can talk about building a new capital city at Rs 1.50 lakh crore, can’t it afford to reimburse the fee of its children?” Whether his stand would stand legal scrutiny is a matter of conjecture though.
4. The Telangana government declined to adhere to the suggestion made by the joint team of officials of two states to release 10 tmc feet of water downstream of Nagarjunasagar for drinking purposes. As the two sides wrangled, the matter went to the Union government. It constituted a board that ordered the release of 3 tmc feet first and another 3 tmc feet later. The Telangana government, however, raised an objection to the second round and Major Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao griped that the Andhra government had not taken steps to prevent farmers from using the Krishna water for irrigation purposes.
5. As a tit-for-tat measure, the Andhra Pradesh government sought to cancel the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) entered into with the private power utilities when the state was united. This would naturally let Andhra government arm-twist Telangana on power issues, as the latter is already reeling under severe shortage of electricity. The conciliatory meeting convened by Anil Goswami could not bring about a rapprochement between the two states and an amicable solution remains elusive.
6. Then came the issue of a barricade in the secretariat that was built as a fence dividing the administrative buildings of both states. N Chandrababu Naidu took exception to the erection of a barricade, maintaining it creates a psychological barrier between government employees. He has described this as a way of causing a discord between the staff of the two regions instead of promoting amity and brotherhood. However, Telangana minister T Hairsh Rao said that the barricade was not the creation of Telangana government, but was erected during the President's Rule. Though the Governor's office disowned and countered this argument, Hairsh Rao produced a Government Order issued during the President's Rule that "divided" the Secretariat.
7. The Telangana government issued an order confiscating the land admeasuring 189.19 acres granted to the AP non-gazzetted officers from their possession. The land was granted to them during the regime of Kotla Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy in 1993-94. Since the utilisation was not done, the land ran into controversies and court cases. The Telangana government used the rule book to seize the piece of prime land from the possession of the employees' body. However, the High Court of Hyderabad ruled a status quo ante on this land, preventing Telangana government from acquiring its possession.
8. The Telangana government is contemplating a move on withdrawing the affidavit filed by the YS Rajasekhara Reddy government on the Wakf Lands in the High Court. Over 1,600 acres of Wakf land was either given to or purchased by institutions like Indian School of Business, Microsoft, Polaris, Wipro, Emaar Properties and Lanco Hills. If the Government withdrew this, it would run into further legal problems as the companies and land users may seek a legal recourse. However, KCR in his latest Cabinet briefing to the media asserted that the government would stand guarantee to the land allotted to IT companies and institutions, but the others like Lanco Hills would have to face the music. Incidentally, former Vijayawada MP Lagadapati Rajagopal is the promoter of Lanco group.
9. The Telangana government also issued notices to AP Film Chamber asking it to surrender the land under its possession which naturally angered the tinsel town which predominantly has its connections rooted to the Telugu Desam Party.
10. Andhra Pradesh government secured an assurance from the Centre that it was one among the two states to get the 24-hour electricity supply on an experimental basis. While the state was chosen for the pilot project, it would come in handy for the AP government to wangle investments into it. In spite of the Hyderabad advantage, the Telangana government cannot guarantee an assured power supply to the prospective investors in the state. However, all industrial houses are meeting both chief ministers, but surely they must be finding it to be a tightrope walk.
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