Is this the final war for Telangana? Tehelka అక్టోబర్ 14, 2011Posted by M Bharath Bhushan in agitation, Andhra, bandh, elections, G.O 610, Hyderabad, JAC, MIM, Mulki, politics, regionalism, Settler, Telangana, TRS.
Tags: APSRTC, Singareni, SJS
Is this the final war for Telangana?
Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy K, Tehelka 13 October 2011
Despite growing resentment among city dwellers over continued disruption of life, supporters of a separate state seem reluctant to budge
On 13 October, the indefinite Sakala Janula Samme or people’s strike entered its 30th day. The strike called by Telangana Political Joint Action Committee (T-JAC), a forum of political parties, students’ organisations, state government employees’ organisations and other JACs has paralysed the governance and economy in the Telangana region, that has for long been the hotbed of protests demanding statehood for itself. And it has not just been Telangana that has borne the brunt of shutdowns but the main city of Hyderabad too, especially the IT-based new economy.
The Samme, which started on 13 September, has garnered preemptive support from lectures, revenue employees and other major departments of state government, miners of Singareni coal mines and a few other state government undertakings. This has ensured the immediate shutdown of colleges, universities, bus services of Andhra Pradesh Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC), law courts including Andhra Pradesh High Court, revenue and government services. The joining of government teachers and private school managements within three days of the start of the strike also led to the closure of schools in the region
The effect on industries across the state has been no different. Power supplies in the region has been hit as coal miners have joined the strike, which led to underproduction in four thermal power units in the state. Hyderabad city, which houses the state IT industry and also 40,000 SMIs has been the worst hit. The joining of state power sector employees from 19 September has come as a further blow to the beleaguered power sector in the troubled state. By the end of one month’s strike, the state has lost 40 million units (MU) of power out of intended production of 270 MU, stated Ajay Jain, CMD of the state transmission corporation AP Transco.
According to a press communiqué from the state government, the overall power supply deficit has dipped to a critical level of 36 MU per day by the end of September and the deficit is increasing by the day, according to the sources of AP Transco. As a result, the widespread power cuts have become commonplace. Industries and agriculture are in dire straits as well. Industries are incurring a loss of about Rs 200 crores in production in Hyderabad city alone, said VS Raju, president of the Andhra Pradesh Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “Andhra Pradesh contributes about 1/10 to the country’s GDP. As industrialists we are in no way concerned with the political demands of statehood, we want a quick resolution to the problem,” he said.
The power-dependant agriculture sector has it tough getting by. Protesting the situation, farmers have blocked roads in many districts. The health sector has been suffering due to the power cuts as treatment of patients is getting affected. The closure of schools and colleges has become cause for worry for students and parents across Telangana. The academic year seems to be at risk as 40-odd days have already been lost due the agitation.
The scene with the transport sector hasn’t been any different either. Strikers have blocked the roads and railway tracks across Telangana region, including the routes that lead to coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions. Their calls for disruption of transportation facilities during Dussehra have already created much anger in Hyderabad, which is a burgeoning cosmopolitan city. The T-JAC initial call for rail roko on 8, 9 and 10 October, right after Dussehra, was much resented. “They are celebrating Dussehra, but they don’t want us to celebrate,” complained A Seetha Rami Reddy, a student who hails from Guntur district from coastal Andhra region. After some discussion, the rail strike was postponed to 15, 16 and 17 October.
Despite the brewing resentment, the strikers remain undeterred in their mission. The joining of Excise Department employees, which is one of the money-making agencies for the state government, as recently as on 5 October and the continuation of the strike by APSRTC staff despite the recent call by the recognised workers’ union for resumption of duties have only reinforced the determination. The State government’s efforts, first to threaten and later to treat, have failed.
On the continuation and intensity of the strike, the divide of opinion between those residing in Hyderabad and the remaining Telangana districts is clear. Hyderabad city and its suburbs house about 25 per cent of population from Telangana region and a good chunk of them have come from different regions of the country. Those who don’t belong to Telangana regions are vocal in expressing their concerns against the continuing strike. “They are imposing their problems on us by opting for frequent disruption of life in the city,” said Kiriti, an intermediate student who was born and raised in the city.
Strikers, however, are holding their ground successfully. Despite the losses, the support from districts is unrelenting. According to those who support the movement the inconveniences that follow the strike do not matter anymore. The loss of academic year for the students, salaries and bonuses for employees, halt of public transportation and government services, nothing will stop the movement for them.
“This is the final war for Telangana,” is the sentiment on the streets. “The city dwellers are not aware of the conditions in the villages in Telangana. They are only questioning the rationale of the strike, but unable to understand the anger of Telangana people,” said D Lavanya, who works for a software firm in Hyderabad.
Vijaya Bhaskara Reddy K is an independent Hyderabad-based journalist.