Over 15,000 villagers from Medak district have come out on the roads to protest against the Telangana government

Why villages in this Telangana district are up in arms over a proposed irrigation projectImage By arrangement
news Protests Friday, June 03, 2016 - 20:48

Even as Hyderabad is lit up brightly on its second birth anniversary as the state capital of Telangana, some villages in the state’s Medak district might soon be plunged into darkness due to a proposed irrigation project.

The government’s sanction for construction of the Mallana Sagar reservoir as part of an irrigation project is likely to leave fourteen villages in Medak district, without power. As hydel power is the main source of electricity and because a large amount of water would be diverted for the project, electricity supply to these villages is bound to be adversely affected.

More than 20,000 acres of land will be acquired for this purpose and some of the affected villages include Etigadda-Kishtapur, Vemulghat, Pallepahad, Singaram, Erravalli. Out of the fourteen villages that will be impacted, six come under Telangana chief minister K Chandrashekhar Rao’s constituency.

For the past three days, over 15,000 villagers from Medak district have come out on the roads to protest against the Telangana government. Protesting men and women have been camping all day long and can be seen cooking rasam and rice on the roads.

On Thursday, the villagers wore a black ribbon and conducted a silent protest at the gram panchayat office in their respective villages. In Etigadda-Kishtapur village, around 600 villagers participated in the protest.

According to the villagers and social activists, ‘’TRS Government had re-designed the Mallanna Sagar reservoir by increasing its capacity from 1.5 Thousand Million Cubic (TMC) to 50 TMC without calculating the economic impact in terms of payment of compensation’’.

A 42-year-old government teacher and social activist from Etigadda Kishtapur, Puli Raju told The News Minute, ‘’This project was announced six months back, there was no official information, only after reading in the local newspapers we got to know about this irrigation project. A few months back, there was an announcement in our villages and we were asked to cooperate with the government.”

Puli Raju added that the villagers are not against the project per se, but want it to be implemented in such a way that their villages and livelihoods are not affected. The villagers have put forth the following demands:

1. There is a forest within a radius of one to five kilometers in Medak district, which should be used for the project instead of their lands.

2. If it’s not possible to use the forest land, then the capacity of the reservoir should be decreased from 50 TMC to 1.5 TMC.

3. If their houses and lands are taken away for the project, they should be rehabilitated suitably.

4. If their lands are taken away, many villagers who are dependent on agriculture are likely to become jobless. In such a scenario, alternate jobs should be provided.

The state government had issued GOs 123 and 214, offering a rehabilitation package. But the villagers are demanding compensation as per the 2013 Land Acquisition Act which not only has Replacement and Rehabilitation(RNR) package but also provides government jobs. The villagers plan to continue their peaceful protest till their demands are met.