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Water scarcity likely to emerge as a major issue in Lok Sabha elections in Telangana

By Sudhansu R Das 

People in Telangana need a few basic human necessities. They need pure water to drink; they need water to grow crops and keep milch animals for income.  They need water bodies to charge the groundwater and green native trees to keep their surroundings cool. Hyderabad was ruled by the great kings and monarchs: the Mauryas, the Satavahanas, the Ikshvakus, the Guptas, the Chalukyas, the Rashtrakutas, the Kakatiya and more recently by the Nizams. 
They had built and preserved  thousands of lakes across the state to save people from the scarcity of water, hunger and from the summer heat. Over the last three decades those gifts from our ancestors have been destroyed, distorted and polluted due to demonic human greed, ignorance and apathy.
People of Telangana now want those natural infrastructures back; they have been protesting and raising their voice for a healthy Telangana. They realize that water is the main ingredient of prosperity.  The Lok Sabha election in the state will be fought over issues for human survival: water, good roads, food, employment, quality education and health care facilities.
It is an enormous task before the new Congress government to repair the damage caused to the natural infrastructures. But the party can start the initiative; it can show promise, bring strong laws and go for strict implementation of the existing laws.  The experiment can start from Hyderabad city which is the financial and cultural nerve center of the state.
The entire financial activities in the city solely depend on the vast resources of water in the city. The vibrant tourism sector, pilgrim sector, agriculture, industry, horticulture, realty sector, services sector, IT sector, animal husbandry sector, fishery sector and handicraft sector depend on healthy water bodies. If those water bodies get destroyed or polluted, it will contaminate drinking water, groundwater and the water for cultivation of crops.
Water scarcity in the once water rich city has increased the cost of transported water significantly. Ultimately, it will adversely affect the realty sector; people who have bought houses will sell their property and shift to other cities. The cost of quality food will increase due to the erosion of water and agricultural produce around the city. The foreign tourist flow to the city for sightseeing will be reduced.  The lakes and the heritage sites were the real attraction for the tourists.
Both the centrist parties: the Congress and the BJP will raise the environment issues. Congress will put the blame on the BRS government to get elbow room; its articulation on how to save the water bodies will boost its election prospects. BJP will show the pictures of the dying lakes to the voters; loss of tree lair and road condition will be the poll issues; besides rising temperature, price rise, food adulteration, loss of farmland, increase in road accidents and urban chaos etc will surface during election.
The Congress has the advantage of being the ruling party; it is also fresh and much of the blames will not go to Congress.  The party can take visible action to win people’s support. It should prepare a white paper on the water bodies of Hyderabad; the number of water bodies that existed 30 years back and how many are existing today and the present status of all the water bodies in the city. It will work as a protective shield against the criticism of manmade water scarcity.  
Second, the Congress should start reviving the lakes with people’s participation instead of spending revenue on the lakes; it will make the Congress party popular. If the ruling congress government frees minimum 50% of lakes from encroachment before the election it will set an example before the country that the party has the courage to act. It will prove that the Congress is the real boss and the builders have to listen to the boss carefully or face demolition squads. 
Congress should give the clear message to the builder “enough is enough'' no violation of the urban plan will be tolerated.  The state can’t afford to let Hyderabad become Bengaluru. All the Central Government offices operating for Andhra Pradesh from Hyderabad should move to Andhra Pradesh immediately. Telangana was formed in 2014. Ten years was too long a period to move the government offices to Andhra Pradesh. New states like Chhattisgarh and Jharkhand moved all the offices within one year.
The roads in Hyderabad have given nightmares to the residents for the last ten years. BJP will raise the issue with documentary evidence and visuals of the city roads. BJP and BRS can dump the Congress once again if Congress does not take concrete steps to repair the roads. No amount should be released to the contractors before thorough inspection of roads. 
Many recently built roads have dangerous manholes which cause more accidents than before because the motorists drive fast thinking the road condition is good. Suddenly he is met with bad manholes and faces accidents. The road inspectors should be penalised if he does not bring into notice the defects on roads. Many of the new roads have bad borders which are not uniformly made. 
The dangerous death trap roads should be identified and repaired soon to save lives. The road connecting Dhulapalli-Bahadurpalli-Pragati Nagar has_many dangerous looking potholes which have caused many accidents in the past five years. The state can earn huge revenue by tracking vehicles which violate road rules like crossing speed limit, driving on wrong lane, overloading, using high beams at night and drunken state driving etc.
Educational institutions which have got excess land and other government benefits should reduce the fees for the poor meritorious students.  Government should take back the excess land and use  it for public benefits.  The private hospitals should admit poor patients and treat them at a lower cost as hospitals are not for earning profit only; their objective is to serve people in distress. Let the voters judge the political parties’ capacity to give good governance while casting their votes for the 2024 Lok Sabha election.  



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