According to the Irrigation Department, drones were flown to assess a flood situation on August 16, but TDP alleges that it was a breach of Naidu’s security.

Explained The controversy around drones flying over former Andhra CM Naidus house
news Controversy Tuesday, August 20, 2019 - 18:47

On August 16, two men were taken into preventive custody by the Tadepalli police in Andhra Pradesh for flying a drone over Chandrababu Naidu’s residence in Undavalli. In reaction, the TDP has reportedly decided to move court over the issue, one of multiple tiffs between Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief N Chandrababu Naidu. 

But how did the issue blow up? Heavy inflows in the Prakasam Barrage across the Krishna river last week caused the water levels to rise, closing traffic between between Vijayawada and Amaravati, and inundating habitations in and around Vijayawada and Amaravati. The rising water levels also threatened to flood Naidu’s house, already facing the prospect of demolition. According to the Irrigation Department, drones were flown to assess the flood situation. 

However, when drones were flown over the former CM’s house, which falls in the Z-plus security category for VIPs and VVIPs, TDP workers restrained the two drone operators, citing a security threat to the former CM. As tension prevailed outside Naidu’s residence, the Tadepalli police intervened and took the two drone operators into custody. Naidu was in Hyderabad at the time.

The TDP has questioned how the use of drones was allowed in a high-security area and said this would not have been possible without the permission from the DGP and the government. They’ve also alleged that by allowing operation of drones over Naidu’s house, his security was breached.  

Naidu’s son Nara Lokesh also tweeted regarding the issue, suggesting that Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy had created a threat to Naidu’s life. 

Naidu escalated the matter and spoke to the Director General of Police (DGP) Gautam Sawang.

Irrigation Minister Anil Kumar Yadav then issued a statement on August 17, stating that due to heavy inflows to Prakasam Barrage and rising water levels, drones were being used by the Irrigation Department to assess the flood situation in the area. He further added that drones have been used with permission and instructions from the Irrigation Department. Anil Kumar also insinuated that Naidu had been using sandbags to prevent water from entering his residence and that Naidu wanted to hide the fact that the building was inundated. The house — which has been constructed on the banks of the Krishna river and parts of which allegedly violate environmental laws — received a demolition notice in June.

Anil Kumar alleged that Naidu was creating drama over the drones for political mileage, and alleged that TDP leaders were playing dirty politics for political gain by claiming that the drones were deployed to monitor Naidu's residence.

However, the matter has now reached the doorstep of Andhra Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan. On Monday, a delegation of TDP leaders met the Governor and submitted a complaint about the state government allegedly breaching Naidu’s security. The delegation also reportedly urged the Governor to seek a report on the issue. 

“We take strong objection at the way the Irrigation Department claimed it had hired an agency to use drones to track the floods without securing permission from the concerned authorities,” Gorantla Butchaiah Chowdary said. He was one of the members of the TDP delegation. 

On Monday, DGP Gautam Sawang said that there was no conspiracy in the issue. 

“There is no conspiracy behind the drone incident on August 16. As a part of their duty, Irrigation officials recorded the visuals using a drone camera to estimate the intensity of the flood in Krishna river,” he reportedly said. 

He further said that confusion was caused because there was a communication gap between local police and the Irrigation Department.

However, according to Deccan Herald, the TDP has decided to move court over the issue, and even name CM Jagan as one of the respondents. 

While the controversy surrounding the drone continues, the people of Andhra continue to suffer, as several low lying areas of Vijayawada have flooded due to outflows from the Prakasam Barrage. 

Read: ‘What about our losses?’: Uncertainty prevails at Vijayawada flood relief camp

With IANS inputs

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