Hyderabad households need not pay water bills - as long as they consume less than 20,000 litres per month - starting from December, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao, or KCR, said Monday, as he released his party's manifesto ahead of next week's municipal election.
The Chief Minister said this would cover around 97 per cent of the city's population.
The Chief Minister also announced sops for various segments, including waiving of power tariff for those running non-AC salons and those employed in the laundry and ironing of clothes. He also announced power tariff concessions to theatres forced shut during the Covid pandemic.
A government order was issued today allowing cinemas, theatres and multiplexes (outside containment zones) to re-open with a maximum of 50 per cent seating providing necessary Covid protocol is followed and show timings are staggered.
More important than the sops though, the Chief Minister asked people to be cautious in casting votes and choose between development and division.
"For the last six years we have given you a peaceful Hyderabad... with development. Do you want to choose someone who creates divisions?" he asked, referring to the opposition BJP.
"There will be curfews, stabbings and violence... (it will be) an unsafe city," the Chief Minister added, stating that the BJP believed in a "Hyderabad for only a few". He also highlighted the development of the city under his watch, pointing out that it is a city favoured by many investors.
"So many MNCs have set up shop here. Hyderabad is inclusive. Do you want a city where everyone lives in peace or one where you don't know if your son or husband will return safe?" he asked.
The Chief Minister also said people of all religious faiths called Hyderabad home. "That is why we have a Sindhi Colony, a Parsi Gutta, a Jagannath temple, space for Malayalis and even for those from Bihar," KCR declared.
Unsurprisingly the opposition BJP has criticised the manifesto and its promises as a repeat of the 2016 election; Minister of State Kishan Reddy, who is the MP from Secunderabad, claimed that manifesto had "disappeared" from the website.
"They did not fulfill promises. They said they would build two lakh two-bedroom houses. What happened to that?" he asked.
Polling for the 150-seat Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) will take place between 7 AM and 6 PM on December 1. The ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) of Chief Minister Rao won 99 seats in the 2016 election; the BJP won just four.
This time, however, boosted by the Assembly bypoll result in Dubbak, the BJP hopes to win many more and carve out a space for itself ahead of state elections in 2024.
The party has already sent senior leader Bhupender Yadav - who led them to a strong win in Bihar - to lead its charge, and has persuaded Jana Sena chief Pawan Kalyan to campaign on their behalf.