Telangana observes shutdown to protest Polavaram Bill

Hyderabad, Jul 12: Telangana state observed a shutdown on Saturday to protest against the passing of Polavaram Bill in Lok Sabha for transfering over 200 villages to Andhra Pradesh. Buses of state-owned Road Transport Corporation (RTC) went off the roads in Hyderabad and nine other districts of Telangana. Shops, business establishments and educational institutions were also closed in many parts of the newly-created state.

Activists of ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), Telangana Joint Action Committee (TJAC) and the left parties took to streets and laid siege to RTC depots to prevent buses from coming out. Though TJAC and the left parties called for the shutdown, TRS is also participating in the protest. Holding their respective party flags, the protestors raised slogans against the Centre for aundemocratic’ move.

Over 500 buses from Mahatma Gandhi Bus Station (MGBS) in Hyderabad were cancelled. TRS workers staged road blockade at RTC cross-roads. The shutdown is complete in Khammam district, whose 205 villages spread over seven mandals were merged with Andhra Pradesh to facilitate construction of Polavaram project across Godavari river. CPI, CPI-M and CPI-ML staged protests in Khammam and other districts to condemn the passing of the bill.

The villages, which are to be submerged by the project, were transferred to prevent any inter-state dispute. Telangana, however, is demanding change in the design of the project to save the villages. Police arrested TJAC chairman M. Kodandaram and his supporters for taking out a protest rally in Hyderabad. Kodandaram alleged that the tribal were being displaced to build the project. He said the central government’s action was to favour contractors who will get works worth Rs.20,000 crore.

Amid protest by MPs from Telangana, Odisha and Chhattisgarh, the Lok Sabha Friday passed Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Amendment Bill or Polavaram Bill for transfer of Telangana villages. Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhara Rao termed the Centre’s move `undemocratic’ and `unconstitutional’. The state government plans to challenge it in the Supreme Court. It alleged that the NDA government violated the Constitution by not consulting Telangana while merging the villages with Andhra Pradesh.

On a call given by the TRS, Telangana had observed a shutdown in May after the Centre promulgated an ordinance to transfer the villages. The Lok Sabha Friday passed the bill to turn the ordinance into an Act.