The Telegraph
Monday , February 24 , 2014
CIMA Gallary

Telangana’s dam niggle

New Delhi, Feb. 23: Over hundred villages that will be affected by the Polavaram project on the Godavari threaten to sink the Centre’s plans for an early “appointed day” to create Telangana.

The 130 hamlets facing submergence lie in residual Andhra but the constituencies in which they fall are part of Telangana under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Bill passed by Parliament last week.

If the new state is created before the summer elections without seat changes, a question mark will hang on the status of the villages, home to an estimated 60,000 people.

The villages are now spread over two Lok Sabha seats, Khammam and Mahabubabad, and three Assembly segments — Aswaraopeta, Pinapaka and Bhadrachalam.

Sources said the pockets would have to be transferred to new constituencies in residual Andhra.

But poll panel officials suggested completing the task in a few weeks — the notification for the Lok Sabha election and polls in three states is expected soon — was not possible.

If elections are held without the changes, the Khammam and Mahabubabad MPs from Telangana could end up representing pockets in Andhra. Assembly polls in Andhra are due along with the Lok Sabha elections.

The current Khammam MP is Nama Nageswara Rao of the Telugu Desam Party. Congress leader and Union minister Balram Naik is the Mahabubabad MP.

The Polavaram multi-purpose irrigation project has been accorded national status in the bifurcation bill.

Part III of the bill, titled “Reorganisation of the state of Andhra Pradesh” lists territories that shall be part of Telangana “on and from the appointed day” “but excluding the (130) villages”.

But transferring the hamlets to new constituencies may take time, according to sources in the poll panel.

The uncertainty has cast doubts on whether the “appointed day” — the day Telangana will officially come into being — will be announced and the seat readjustments done before the Election Commission notifies polls.

If the government wishes to achieve the goal, the poll panel will be left with the task of readjusting constituencies within a few weeks leading up to the notification.

But delimitation — the process of redrawing constituencies — cannot be completed in such a short time and will take at least six to eight months, the sources said.

“The appointed day can be fixed in such a way that suitable amendments for delimitation can be made. There has to be delimitation of areas for sake of the submerged areas,” said Congress leader M. Shashidhar Reddy.

Election commissioner H.S. Brahma stressed the need for a “clear” government notification specifying the areas to be transferred.

“The government notification has to say whether areas to be transferred from A to B are SC or ST seats or whether delimitation should be done,” Brahma said.