Plan to seek Saibaba's help for

project put off


By Our Staff Reporter ANANTAPUR

From: Hindu Newspaper Nov. 20, 2000

The proposal of all the legislators and Members of Parliament belonging to the district to meet Sri Satya Saibaba on his 75th birthday celebrations at Puttaparthi seeking his help for the Handri-Neeva project is learnt to have been postponed after advice by a key member of the Sri Satya Sai Central Trust, which undertakes all development and charity programmes of Sri Saibaba.

It is said that the trust member had advised a couple of leaders of the ruling Telugu Desam Party, who have been actively pursuing expediting the project, who had met him that Sri Saibaba would be preoccupied with a hectic schedule as part of his 75th birthday celebration and that was why it was not advisable to meet him during the period. Instead, he is learnt to have asked them to meet him sometime in December.

The Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, had assured a delegation of MPs from Rayalaseema, who called on him a couple of months back urging him to take up Handri-Neeva as a national project, that he would speak to Sri Saibaba seeking help for the project. Based on the assurance, the MPs and legislators met the Chief Minister, Mr. N.Chandrababu Naidu, last month and are said to have got his clearance to approach Sri Saibaba along with the legislators of other parties.
An all-party meeting was hurriedly convened by the ruling party early this month to discuss the pending project and to get the concurrence of all parties to approach Sri Saibaba to seek his financial help to complete the project. Though all the parties were in favour of completing the project in a phased manner, the meeting ended with lack of unanimity over the issue of the capacity of the project.

While the ruling party favoured the project to be taken up as a drinking water project first with a 5.5 tmcft water utilisation capacity, all other parties - Congress, BJP, CPI, CPI(M) and others stressed on taking it up with its full capacity of utilising 40 tmcft of water. However, it was decided to approach Sri Saibaba for his assistance, to whatever he will be ready for.
Keeping aside Sri Saibaba's response to the proposed request as and when it will be taken before him, the key trust member is said to have reminded the TDP leaders that Sri Saibaba generally helps in any matter which is feasible for implementation. In the case of Handri-Neeva project it has no assured water under the Bachawat Award.

The trust members are learnt to have mentioned that Sri Saibaba had come forward to fund the drinking water supply scheme for more than 700 habitations in the district only after an assurance from the State Government that it would augment supplies from the Tungabhadra High Level Canal in a fixed quantity every year. Though HLC water is being given to the Satya Sai scheme sometimes there is no regular allocation to it from HLC so far. Another proposal put forward by the Animal Husbandry and Dairy Development Minister, Mr. N.Kistappa, on the Tumkur scheme, has complicated the situation. The new proposal is to take water from the Bhadra river in Tumkur district (Karnataka) to upland areas like Madakasira, Hindupur, Kadiri, Nallamada and others and compensate Karnataka with reduction in the HLC quota to the district. The proposal is more complex like another proposed scheme of Tungabhadra Flood Flow Canal as they involve two States.

Meanwhile, the work on Handri-Neeva is almost at a standstill after the second inauguration by the Chief Minister last year. The Government had allocated a mere Rs. 14.49 crores to the project in this year's zero-base budget of which about Rs. 7.5 crores is meant for salaries, administrative expenditure and survey work. The remaining amount, if released, is sufficient for clearing the dues of about Rs. 4 crores for land acquisition and another Rs. 2 crores for the works completed