September 17, 2021
To: either/view subscribers
Good morning. Tourist places in Jammu and Kashmir always offer a unique experience. Have you heard about Dal Lake in Srinagar? It has now got its first-ever floating ATM.
It already has floating gardens and a floating post office. The place is well known for houseboats. Now, the owners and tourists are happy that they don’t have to travel into the city to get cash. Are you thinking what we are thinking? Let’s pack our bags, Dal Lake sounds like the perfect weekend getaway we all need right now.
📰 FEATURE STORY
Telangana’s Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project
When we face water scarcity, our governments take it upon themselves to bring in new plans and schemes to tackle the situation. That is why the Telangana government introduced many irrigation projects to benefit the state. One of the projects that stands out is the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation Project (KLIP).
This is touted as the world’s largest lift irrigation project. It is expected to provide water for industries, local residents and irrigation facilities for farmers. The project has crossed several milestones and received appreciation from many people. The government has also claimed that compensation for land acquisition for the project is done. However, people have filed petitions citing that the compensation was less. The court has observed that the government coerced villagers to sell lands at lower rates. Additionally, experts assert that the government violated land laws.
Telangana was often described as a drought-hit and parched state. But that was a long time ago. Thanks to the state government initiatives, the water needs of the state will soon be adequately met. They have undertaken several major and minor irrigation projects and rejuvenation of village tanks.
A major project in this regard is the Kaleshwaram Lift Irrigation System. A lift irrigation system is one where the water is lifted from the water body through pumps and surge pools, rather than through the natural gravity-led flow of water. In this case, water is lifted from the Godavari river, which flows below sea level, to several metres above sea level. Spread across approximately 1,822 km, the Kaleshwaram project is divided into seven major links. It will benefit 13 districts other than Hyderabad and Secunderabad. It aims to produce a total of 240 TMC.
This project has been welcomed by the localities. It is said that this project will help Telangana become an agricultural powerhouse and will aid farmers to reap crops. It is also helping the state combat low groundwater levels and rainfall deficits. However, land issues have been reported in at least five of the project’s reservoirs. Data also shows that the government has bypassed the Land Acquisition Act 2013 while acquiring lands for the project. There are allegations that the government acquired lands by deploying police forces in certain villages.
The project benefits all
The irrigation project will benefit the state in multiple ways. To begin with, after deducting the estimated evaporation loss, the remaining water will be divided for different purposes. Out of the 240 TMC, 169 is allocated for irrigation, 16 for industrial uses, 30 for Hyderabad municipal water and the remaining 10 is assigned for drinking water in nearby villages.
Experts claim that the benefits of the project will be long term. The farmers in several parts of Telangana have borne the brunt of water scarcity and struggled to supply water to the crops. This project will change that situation. Additionally, it will help in the recharge of groundwater.
The project will also develop the socio-economic status of the state. Besides supplying water for basic needs, the project will develop fisheries, inland waterways, tourism and biodiversity. It aims to irrigate 18.26 lakh acres of land across different districts. It has also set multiple records by building the longest tunnels, underground surge pools and biggest pumps. In short, this is the world’s largest lift irrigation project. Experts say that this project will set precedent for other states to follow. The water is lifted from the Godavari from 250 feet. Under this project, river basins and sub-basins are also interlinked and this move has received positive support.
For the project, private lands of 12,340 hectares were required. This meant that around 15,000 families had to be rehabilitated. The state government has asserted that the compensation for the land acquisition process is successfully done. As per the ‘Telangana Socio-Economic Outlook 2021’ report, the government claims that everything has been done in accordance with the law. The resettlement has also been executed as per the 2013 Act.
To help people resettle, a government order was issued. Further, the government insisted that the offers, as per the order, were more beneficial than what could be offered under the 2013 law. For instance, the irrigation ministry said that the farmers will get around Rs 8 lakh per acre under the order passed when compared to Rs 60 thousand that can be availed under the act.
There were several criticisms against the land acquisition methods used by the government. Refuting this, the then Telangana irrigation minister Harish Rao said that the government is working towards addressing farmer issues. He also asserted that the government is looking forward to completing the project in a fast-paced manner. Thereby, it will benefit the Telangana farmers. He added that the government is also ready to pay extra compensation for land acquisitions.
Displeased residents and land law violations
The project might benefit a majority of people in Telangana. The concern has nothing to do with the project, in fact, it goes beyond it. People and few experts oppose the way the state government acquired lands. The land acquisition process has resulted in several people receiving fewer benefits than what they deserved.
People have been filing petitions in court ever since the rehabilitation process began. In the month of June, the High Court observed that Telangana government officers were acting in an egoistic manner. In the past, the government was also asked to pay fines for forcing people to give up lands.
There are also claims that the acquisition process not only affected people but also resulted in increased project costs. The argument is also supported by the increase in the cost from an estimated ₹40,000 crore to ₹88,000 crore now. Shockingly, it is expected to increase to ₹1.15 lakh crore. The Wire reports that in April 2020, the state government released waters even before all the people moved out and forcefully evicted the people.
The state government released a government order that gave way for entering into individual agreements with farmers who were willing to sell their land. This means it was not necessary for the government to meet the requirements mentioned in the 2013 Act.
Before we discuss the provisions of the Act, there is one more thing we should know. While the government entered into the voluntary acquisition of land, people claimed that they were told that they had no choice but to surrender their lands. They had to give up their lands for a fixed rate of ₹6 lakh. They filed a petition in the court opposing this. Additionally, the government had also forced them to sign documents but they did not understand the content as it was in English. Following another petition, the high court struck down the government order.
This time the government went one step ahead and amended the 2013 Land Acquisition Act for the state. First important change – A new section was inserted to exempt certain projects from social impact assessments (SIA). SIA was mandatory in the 2013 law and it allowed for consultations to be held at panchayat levels to analyse the benefits and costs of a project. Another change provided powers to the state government to enter into individual agreements with farmers who are willing to sell lands. A few other amendments were made to favour the government.
By making the amendments, the government was able to revive the government order that was stayed by the court. But the acquisition did little to no help for the villagers. Farmers with cultivable lands did not get enough compensation. Additionally, differential rehabilitation affected people. For instance, bachelors in certain villages received less compensation than the married people for the same acre of land. Single old men over the age of 65 were not eligible for any rehabilitation benefits in a few places. This resulted in many people not receiving proper benefits. Experts opine that the project is turning out to be an example of large scale irrigation project resulting in unfair displacement.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
Juvenile Justice Laws Need to Uphold the Twin Objectives of Justice and Deterrence
For the Left:
Can I say Gandhi was no Mahatma? Yes, I can
🏴 STATE OF THE STATES
Tunnelling through success (Maharashtra) – While road travel between two cities is generally a fun experience, we don’t like bummers like very long travel time. To reduce our road troubles, a group of 150 engineers teamed up with over 1,500 workers to build India’s widest tunnel at Igatpuri. This is also the country’s fourth longest tunnel, which was constructed in a record time of two years. Now, travellers from Mumbai to Nagpur can easily complete their 700 km journey within 8-9 hours, as opposed to the 14-15 hours it used to take before the tunnel. The tunnel will also have water hydrants and other facilities for faster communication. We can’t wait to drive through the tunnels soon!
Rationed out (Andaman and Nicobar islands) – Have you ever wondered what living on an island would feel like? Surrounded by water, trees and nature, a peaceful life indeed. But if you ask the residents of remote islands, they would not completely agree with you. Katchal Island is in a state of panic as there is a shortage of food grains in the island. They received their last share of ration on August 5 and are now running out of essential commodities. Andaman MP Kuldeep Rai Sharma has directed the chief secretary to immediately send out a cargo ship with enough ration to the island. While we await the ship to reach the shores quickly, we hope that such food shortages do not happen again.
Smart solutions (Arunachal Pradesh) – What if one smart solution can dissolve most of your practical worries? If you are thinking that’s not possible, listen to the Arunachal Pradesh government’s idea. The government is planning to install smart monopoles in certain towns of the state. The telecommunication towers will ensure everyone in town gets a seamless network connectivity. It will also provide lighting solutions that could add to street aesthetics, protect pedestrians and also reduce road crimes because CCTV facilities can be included. It would be highly beneficial for the citizens.
Powering up (Andhra Pradesh) – As days go by, our usage of energy keeps scaling up. We need a major solar photovoltaic plant to help generate green energy. This is where the Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) steps in. The company has commissioned India’s largest floating solar photovoltaic plant in Andhra Pradesh. The plant will be located at NTPC Simhadri across an area of 100 acres. Plans are being discussed to design an incredulous state-of-the-art model. It’s said that this plant will be the first of its kind in India where the module can withstand wind up to 180km/hr. We are looking forward to this massive project and its success so that we can save up on our valuable resources.
Rules flouted (Himachal Pradesh) – High drama unravelled in Himachal Pradesh as nearly 40% faculty in private universities were found ineligible for the posts they were holding. The state’s regulatory commission for private educational institutions screened faculty documents of 12 out of 17 private varsities and revealed that many teachers did not have the desired qualifications. They do not fulfill the UGC norms issued by the government. While some teachers have not provided their National Eligibility Test qualification, others have failed to submit PhD exemption certificates. Now, the universities have been directed to replace all ineligible faculty. We are unsure if our worry should be with the teachers or the students.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
245,844 – Cases registered under different sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) in Delhi in 2020. Among 19 metropolitan cities, Delhi had the highest crime rate of 150.6 per million population. Chennai came second with 88,388 cases and a crime rate of 101.6 per million population.