The handling of the Covid situation in Telangana, especially in Hyderabad, has spurred a power tussle in the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) and the Cabinet of Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao.
This came to light after heavy rain on Wednesday and Thursday left ankle-deep water in four general wards of the Osmania General Hospital — tasked with admitting those with Covid symptoms and referring the active cases to the state’s exclusive coronavirus facility at Gandhi Hospital.
While Health Minister Etela Rajender was still in talks with hospital officials Thursday afternoon to sweep out the water, Minister of Animal Husbandry Talasani Srinivas Yadav visited the OGH and took charge of clean-up and restoration operations, much to the chagrin of Rajender who left in a huff.
Sources in TRS said a faction in the party led by Yadav is trying to gain an upper hand in the party and government, and the allegations of mishandling of the Covid situation have provided an opportunity to KCR’s distractors to elbow out leaders close to the CM, including Rajender.
“The state’s health minister was not even aware that his Cabinet colleague visited a government hospital and made some disparaging remarks about the sewage system and how it was handled. There is clearly a power struggle within the upper echelons of TRS,” a TRS leader said.
Rajender told The Indian Express that as OGH was a heritage building, repairs could not be conducted to protect it from heavy rain. “When we tried to conduct repairs earlier, heritage conservation activists filed PILs and a stay was granted. Several wards of OGH are in a fragile state but we cannot do anything due to the court orders. Due to heavy rains, some wards are flooded but the government cannot be blamed for that because when we tried to repair, activists prevented it,” he said. “Srinivas Yadav is a minister from Hyderabad area so he may have visited Osmania. I don’t have to say anything about it.”
Yadav, who represents Sanath Nagar Assembly constituency in Hyderabad, said he felt responsible as a representative of an Assembly constituency from the city.
Contrary to Rajender’s remark, Yadav said that an underground storm water drain and sewerage pipeline had choked, causing flooding in the general wards. “The flooding in Osmania general wards was not due to leakage from the roof… it was caused by water from choked underground drainage lines. I have issued instructions to the municipality on how to unclog the pipelines. The work has started and by Friday, the underground sewerage pipelines should be free. I will also suggest the government to replace these 100-year-old pipelines,” he said.
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