Srikrishna panel favours united Andhra

NEW DELHI, January 6 (THE HINDU): While terming the demand for a separate state of Telangana as only the “second best option’’, Justice Srikrishna Committee report on the situation in Andhra Pradesh has favoured the united Andhra option for continuing the development momentum of the three regions of the State. The panel found the united Andhra to be the “most workable’’ option in the given circumstances and in the best interest of the social and economic welfare of the people.
“In this option it is proposed to keep the State united and provide Constitutional / Statutory measures to address the core socio-economic concerns about the development of the Telangana region,’’ the report that was made public on Thursday, a week after it was submitted to Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram, said.

Balance tilting in favour of united A.P
Narrowing down on the sixth option of keeping the State united, the panel said that it could be done through the establishment of a statutory and empowered Telangana Regional Council with adequate transfer of funds, functions and functionaries. “The Regional Council would provide a legislative consultative mechanism for the subjects to be dealt with by the Council,’’ it said.
The Committee felt that with firm political and administrative management, it should be possible to convey conviction to the people about keeping the State united as this option would be in the best interest of all and would provide satisfaction to the maximum number of people in the State. “It would also take care of the uncertainty over the future of Hyderabad as a bustling educational, industrial and IT hub/destination,’’ it observed.
Dwelling further on the sixth option, it said that for management of water and irrigation resources on an equitable basis, a technical body – Water Management Board – and an Irrigation Project Development Corporation in expanded role have been recommended. This course of action should meet all the issues raised by Telangana people satisfactorily, it said.  Flagging socio-economic development and good governance as being the core issue, the Committee, keeping the national perspective in mind, was of the considered view that “this option stands out as the best way forward.’’
The five-member Committee, headed by former Supreme Court judge Justice B. N. Srikrishna, was appointed on February 3 last year. It examined in detail the issues pertaining to current demand for a separate State of Telangana as well as the demand for maintaining the present status quo of keeping the State united.
The panel examined all aspects of the situation as well as keeping in view the local, regional and the national perspectives, it gave six possible options. Parameters such as regional, economic and equity analysis, education and health, water resources, irrigation and power development, public employment issues were examined by the Committee.
It also looked into issues relating to Hyderabad metropolis and sociological and cultural issues. In the past 11 months, it consulted organisations of civil society such as industry, trade, trade unions, farmers’, women’s and students’ organisations and consulted all sections of the people, especially the political parties.
Panel offers six options

The report, running into 461 pages, lists six options — (i) Maintaining status quo, (ii) Bifurcation of the State into Seemandhra and Telangana with Hyderabad as a Union Territory and the two States developing their own capitals in due course, (iii) Bifurcation of State into Rayala-Telangana and coastal Andhra regions with Hyderabad being an integral part of Rayala-Telangana, (iv) Bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into Seemandhra and Telangana with enlarged Hyderabad Metropolis as a separate Union Territory, (v) Bifurcation of the State into Telangana and Seemandhra as per existing boundaries with Hyderabad as the capital of Telangana and Seemandhra to have a new capital (vi) Keeping the State united by simultaneously providing certain definite Constitutional/Statutory measures for socio-economic development and political empowerment of Telangana region and creation of a statutorily empowered Telangana Regional Council.
It found the fifth option to be the “second best option’’ with a rider that separation “is recommended only in case it is unavoidable and if this decision can be reached amicable amongst all the three regions.’’ While considering the option of bifurcation of the State into Telangana and Seemandhra as per existing boundaries, the Committee felt that the continuing demand for a separate Telangana has some merit and “is not entirely unjustified.’’ In case this option is exercised, the apprehensions of the coastal Andhra and the Rayalaseema people and others who are settled in Hyderabad and other districts of Telangana with regard to their investments, properties, livelihood and employment would need to be absolutely addressed.
“Considering all aspects, the Committee felt that while creation of separate Telangana would satisfy a large majority of people from the region, it will also throw up several other serious problems. Therefore, after taking into account of the pros and cons the Committee did not think it to be most preferred, but the second best option,’’ the report said.
Maintaining status quo as the least favoured option, it also found the second and third options to be “not practicable.’’ The Committee felt that the fourth option of bifurcating Andhra Pradesh into Seemandhra and Telangana with enlarged Hyderabad metropolis as a separate Union Territory was likely to receive stiff opposition from Telangana protagonists and it may be difficult to reach a political consensus in making this solution acceptable to all.