No special status, no special package, the state of Andhra Pradesh has to make do with centre’s special assistance of Rs 1000 crore only, which pales into insignificance before Bihar’s Rs 2.25 lakh crore special package.
Fianally, after two days of hectic parleys with Chandrababau Naidu, union government announced a most disappointing package of Rs 1000 cr. The announcement is not made by any central minister nor any NITI Ayog official from union government. But, Press Information Bureau issued a small press note on such important an issue. Though YS Chowdary, union minister of state for science and Technology announced, he was not competent to make official statement. Interestingly, all the issues, which have been raised by the chief minister and opposition parties have been covered in the micro-package called special assistance. The demands covered are: Special assistance to seven districts of Rayalaseema and North Coastal Andhra, Capital construction, and Polavaram project.
The centre said this is in addition to the what was released in the union budget 2014-2015.
In fact, while Naidu was in confabulations with union ministers in past two days, YS Chowdary had been announcing that a special package would be announced by evening. He told the waiting media that a huge package was being finalized. He also said the NITI Aayog met ten times on the Andhra Pradesh Package. Finally, what came out from the centre was pittance. There is not even assurance of further assistance in future. Chowdary periodically sought to raise expectations by telling people that special status was being finalized. Later he changed the tune to special package in lieu of Special status and issued statement that package, bigger than special status, was being finalized. That none of his utterances has been proved correct in the past 15 months shows his standing in and penetration into the union government.
This package has come at a time when Opposition leader Jaganmohan Reddy is getting ready to launch his indefinite fast from tomorrow from Guntur. We have to wait for Jagan’s reaction on this tiny special assistance.
Details of the package
The Central Government yesterday decided to continue to support the programs for the development of backward districts of Andhra Pradesh and provide assistance for creation of New Capital of Andhra Pradesh including the Raj Bhawan, High Court, Government Secretariat, Legislative Assembly, Legislative Council, and such other essential infrastructure. “Accordingly, the Central Government has announced a further ‘Special Assistance’ of Rs. 1000 crore during the current Financial Year 2015-16. The Central Government will provide special assistance of Rs.350 crore (@Rs. 50 crore per district) for the development of 7 backward districts covering Rayalaseema & North Coastal region, Rs. 350 crore for new capital of the state and Rs. 300 crore for Polavaram Irrigation Project. A tax incentive has also been provided in Finance Act, 2015,” the PIB note said.
The Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 bifurcated the State and the State of Telengana came into being with effective from 2nd June, 2014. Having regard to the resource availability, the Central Government is required to make appropriate grants and also provide adequate benefits and incentives in the form of special assistance to the backward areas of States.
Accordingly, PIB note said, an amount of Rs. 4403 crore was released to the successor State of Andhra Pradesh during 2014-2015 which included Rs. 350 crore @ Rs. 50 crore per district for the development of 7 backward districts covering Rayalaseema & North Coastal region, Rs. 2303 core for bridging resource gap, Rs. 1500 crore for construction of Raj Bhavan & for creating infrastructure facilities in the new capital of the State and Rs. 250 crore for Polavaram irrigation project.
The note was silent on whether Rs 350 allocated to Backward districts was a new commitment or mere reiteration of the commitment made in the budget.