Andhra water wars: Telangana farmers feel neglected

Mahbubnagar (Telangana region): On the New Year's Eve, a day after the Srikrishna Committee on Telangana had submitted its report to the Union government, Venkataiah hanged himself to death. His borewells and crops had repeatedly failed, debts mounted and hope had perished.

"I have five children. The borewell failed. We have more than 3-4 lakh rupees in debt,'' said  Chandrakala, Venkataiah's widow.

The irony is that this happened in a village in Mahbubnagar district through which the Krishna River enters Andhra Pradesh. The waters of the river are used to irrigate coastal districts while Mahbubnagar remains perennially drought-prone. One reason why Mahbubnagar district has had a history of maximum number of migrations in search of livelihood options.

Over 70 per cent of the catchment area of both the Krishna and Godavari rivers falls in Telangana, yet it is the coastal belt that reaps most of the benefit. The connection between sharing of waters and prosperity is not lost on anyone.

"They have good water, good crops, so parents can educate their children. Here we don't have irrigated land, no water, so no surplus for any development. We remain backward. They are far advanced,'' said a farmer from the area.

The so called disparity in terms of financial conditions is one of the main reasons behind the resentment when leaders like Chandrababu Naidu and Jaganmohan Reddy sit on hunger-strikes demanding justice for farmers in coastal Andhra region, who would have otherwise harvested a bumper crop but for unprecedented rains and flood.

"When floods come there, our wealth is diverted there. They take our water, our electricity, and become rich landlords,'' said Sreeramulu , another farmer from Mahbubnagar.

Now, after Chandrababu Naidu and Jaganmohan Reddy's hunger-strike Jaganmohan Reddy is sitting on a one-day fast in Delhi to protest the injustice to Andhra farmers after the Krishna Water Tribunal's decision.