A controversial bill which paves the way for the Polavaram project in Andhra Pradesh by merging some villages and mandals of Telangana with Seemandhra was approved in the Lok Sabha on Friday, amid stiff opposition from the Telangana Rashtra Samithi, the Biju Janata Dal and some other parties.
As soon as the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation (Amendment) Bill seeking to replace an ordinance, and a statutory resolution disapproving it, was taken up, TRS members trooped into the Well and BJD members stood up in protest.
Over-ruling their objections, Speaker Sumitra Mahajan observed that it was not necessary to have a separate discussion on the statutory resolution disapproving the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation (Amendment) Ordinance that the bill seeks to replace and later on the bill, saying it had been done as per the practice of the House.
Maintaining that the bill was introduced after being referred to the relevant Standing Committee, Mahajan also said that interpretation of the law is the primary responsibility of the court of law.
She said her duty was to conduct the proceedings of the House in a proper manner as she ruled out the objections of members.
Her observations came following a point of order raised by Trinamool Congress member Saugata Roy and TRS member B Vinod Kumar insisting that the ordinance itself was “against the spirit of the Constitution”.
The TRS members also contended that the ordinance was unconstitutional as it had been brought about when the separate Telangana state had already been formed. Kumar claimed the President, before issuing the ordinance, had not elicited the views of the state legislature and wanted the government to defer bill.
BJD leader Bhratruhari Mahtab said his party was not against the project itself but “arbitrariness” with which the height of the dam was increased that would inundate 307 adivasi villages in Odisha and Chhattisgarh. He suggested that the project’s design could be altered to ensure that tribals are not affected in any region and said the way things were turning out there could be no alternative but to approach the courts.
The Speaker overruled the objections and asked Home Minister Rajnath Singh to move the bill for consideration, as TRS members trooped into the Well raising slogans and BJD members were in the aisle.
Members from Andhra Pradesh, including those of TDP, were raising slogans in favour of the Polavaram Multi-Purpose Irrigation Project.
The Home Minister said the government was committed to the project and provisions had been made for resettlement of the people displaced by it. “Let there be no doubt that we shall endeavour to fulfil the dream of prosperity of Andhra Pradesh through Polavaram,” he said.
Amid din, the Bill was adopted by voice vote after the House negatived the statutory resolution moved by Vinod Kumar, Mahtab and Sultan Ahmed from the Trinamool Congress.
Participating in a brief discussion, Congress member G Sukhender Reddy said step taken by the Centre was not right as it should have convened a meeting of chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Odisha and Chhattisgarh.
He said people of Telangana are angry and dismayed because it is a national project and the technical committee of government of India should be consulted over the design of the project.