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Row over Telugu Ganga water hots up

By Our Special Correspondent

TIRUPATI. Feb 15. The tussle between residents of Tirupati and farmers of Srikalahasti for Telugu Ganga water intensified with farmers staging a rasta roko at Srikalahasti demanding that their needs be met first. A tense situation prevailed as traffic was thrown out of gear.

The issue has assumed political overtones with the reported involvement of the Congress MLAs of Srikalahasti -- S.C.V. Naidu and his Tirupati counterpart, M. Venkatramana -- in the row to put the TDP-led Tirupati municipal council on the mat.

MLA defended

In fact, municipal councillors cutting across party lines lashed out at Mr. Venkatramana for allegedly working against the interests of Tirupati residents. The TDP councillors dashed off a petition to the Chief Minister, Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, seeking his intervention to rein in the two MLAs, and Congress councillors at a press meet on Monday made no secret of their ire at Mr. Venkatramana's role in the "water issue."

A section of his followers however today sought to defend his stand and accused the Tirupati Municipal Chairperson, K. Sankar Reddy, of inciting the councillors and the locals against him for narrow political gains.

Caught in the row are residents of Tirupati who are being denied their "once in two days" quota of Telugu Ganga water with farmers of Srikalahasti "forcibly" diverting water to their lands. Though the municipality and the Revenue Department have put in place a monitoring committee to check the diversion, nothing tangible has been achieved.

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