People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 41

October 11, 2009

Andhra Pradesh

 Unprecedented Flood Havoc

Kurnool city submerged in flood waters

Telakapally Ravi

ANDHRA Pradesh witnessed one of the worst ever flood havoc from October 2. The state government headed by K Rosaiah after the sudden death of Y S Rajasekhara reddy, lost precious time in a long spell of uncertainity, caught napping while   gushing waters went down Srisailam dam. Even as heavy rains were reported in the upper tracts of Karnataka, the administration failed to gauge the situation in time. If only the water was released in time much of the damage could have been avoided. As this has not happened, the Kurnool district along with adjoining Mahaboobnagar district was totally submerged in Krishna and Tungabhadra waters causing immense damage to the public life. Even after a week, the situation is so horrible that seepage, garbage and carcases of animals lie unattended. About 40 people died in Kurnool and 16 in Mahaboobnagar district. The toll would have been certainly higher had it been the night time when the water gushed.

An alert media, political leaders and people in general remained alert and saved lives.

The government machinery failed miserably with no coordination or contingency plans of any kind. In fact, the first media conference of the chief minister on the flooding waters was that of helplessness (in fact in the media channel discussions, this writer drew a parallel with his media interaction exactly a month ago on the missing chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy. On both the occasions, he left it to the people.) No body was sure about the water levels and the relative security of the dam and the media went on with its own stories. Thus, it was virtually a nightmare for many people. The water storage capacity at Srisailam dam is also a matter of controversy because of the haphazard and lopsided approach of the state government. The flood havoc passed on to Krishna and Guntur districts later on. The water outflow had to reach Prakasam barrage through Nagarjuna sagar. From there, it merges into the Bay of Bengal after irrigating the lands. Typhoons and cyclones are not new to the area but the outflow was highest in the last 100 years. People were sleepless for two days thinking about the fate of Prakasam barrage. It crossed all the known records inundating 200 villages. (see box)

Kurnool was battered by the flood waters and languished without drinking water, food and sanitation. Many parts of the city were in dark as power system collapsed. The miseries of pregnant women, children and the old people  is  beyond description. But for the mutual cooperation and the timely help from political party workers and voluntary organisations, situation would have been much worse. M A Gafoor, Central Committee member of the CPI(M) and former MLA, along with district leaders and workers of the Party, plunged into the relief activity. B V Raghavulu, Politbureau member and   state secretary of the Party also visited and took part in relief activity and distributed clothes and medicines.  Leader of the opposition, N Chandrababu Naidu, Prajarajyam president, Chiranjeevi and others also visited the district. In Krishna district, CPI(M) Central Committee member P Ramayya and others went round the affected areas providing relief. Congress president Sonia Gandhi made an aerial survey and promised help. The state government put the loss at Rs 12,000 crores and asked for an immediate release of Rs 6000 crores. So far the centre released only Rs 420 crores and there is a demand from every side for declaring the floods as a national calamity. Though


Chief Minister Rosaiah entered the C block  on  October 5  after prolonged dithering. It is well known that the followers of Y S Rajasekhara Reddy were hell-bent on seeing his son Jagan as the chief minister and so they refused to accept Rosaiah completely. Several ministers insisted on change and Rosaiah maintained a diplomatic stance. After the raucous over �insulting� the flexi of Sonia Gandhi in Khammam,  Jagan�s camp was temporarily in defence and opponents of YSR  tried to use the issue. The floods changed the scene altogether and Rosaiah moved strategically. Though some say he is tightening his grip, he has miles to go in providing full-fledged administration and it is clear that the Jagan camp won�t allow the situation to  settle.