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AP Assembly pays homage to Mekapati Gowtham Reddy


The AP Assembly on Tuesday paid rich tributes to its sitting member and minister for industries Mekapati Gowtham Reddy, who died of cardiac arrest on February 21, 2022.

Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy moved a resolution in the Assembly on the second day of the budget session proposing homage to the late minister.

Jagan Mohan Reddy said that he had lost a personal friend in the death of Gowtham Reddy.

He said Gowtham Reddy had been a strong supporter for him right from the beginning, even when he was not in active politics.

The chief minister said that he would include Udayagiri area of Nellore district in the first phase of the Veligonda project as a tribute to his friend and colleague Gowthm Reddy.

The ruling YSR Congress members and the opposition TDP members spoke recalling their association with the late minister and paid rich tributes to the departed soul.

Jagan Mohan Reddy said that he would stand by the family in the hour of crisis and would always remember Gowtham Reddy.

He said Goutham had won as MLA for two times and successfully handled six departments in the cabinet which include, Industries, Infrastructure and Investment, IT and Electronics, Handlooms and Textiles, Sugar Industries and Skill Development and added that he also attended Dubai Expo recently and used to send daily updates of the meetings held in Dubai regarding investments.

The Chief Minister remembered the efforts of Goutham Reddy in making industries like Century Plywood, Sri Cements, Sun Pharma, Aditya Birla Group, Adani group come to the state

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Wherever Jagan resides, that is AP capital: Minister Goutham Reddy


Andhra Pradesh industries minister Goutham Reddy made sensational comments on AP’s capital on Tuesday (today).

Goutham Reddy stated that wherever AP Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy resides, that will be the AP’s capital.

“It may be Pulivendula or it may be Vijayawada or it may be some other location. Wherever AP CM Jagan resides, that will become AP’s capital,” Goutham said.

He went to say that from wherever AP CM Jagan works, that will be the location for Secretariat.

Goutham Reddy supported Jagan’s decision to set up three capitals for Andhra Pradesh.

He said Jagan’s decision is based on “Sribhagh Pact”.

Sribagh is an agreement made between the political leaders of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions during the separate Andhra movement in November 1937.

Goutham Reddy now talking about Sribagh Pact made in 1937 to justify Jagan’s decision to set up three capitals for AP has turned controversial.

He said YSRCP government is committed to set up three capitals for AP and three capitals will be a reality very soon.

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Andhra to set up 2 multi-modal logistics parks


Andhra Pradesh Industries Minister Mekapati Goutham Reddy on Tuesday said, two multi-modal logistics parks will be set up in the state.

The logistics parks are expected to come up in about 100 acres of land near Krishnapatnam and Kakinada ports.

The industries department is looking at PPP route to build the parks in Andhra Pradesh Industrial Infrastructure Corporation (APIIC) lands.

Reddy reviewed the progress on Tuesday along with senior officials at the secretariat and stated that a special logistics policy will be issued for the year 2021 soon.

The minister said the government is currently working on the logistics policy, taking into consideration the policies of Singapore-like countries.

“On the lines of ease of doing business, we will work out ease of doing logistics,” Reddy noted.

As part of creating an authority at the Central level, the minister said orders have already been given to make the chief secretary as the chairman for SLCC.

He noted that for logistics to thrive, freight carriers are crucial for minor and major ports, cold storages and warehouses.

Similarly, the department is also considering building truck parking bays in five acres of land parcels near state highways and national highways.

These parking bays are expected to be equipped with refuelling stations, parking slots, dhabas (F&B outlets) and drivers resting rooms.

Meanwhile, industries department director informed the major problems being faced by businessmen and manufacturers.

Likewise, there were also proposals to set up an integrated command control centre.

The industries ministry is also working towards raising the capacity of goods transportation from the ports, including raising it to 70 per cent from 50 per cent by 2026 at non-major ports.

Reddy inquired about the progress made on the plans to set up the petroleum complex with officials who returned from Delhi recently.

Considering the recent shuffling of ministers at the Centre, Reddy is expected to visit Delhi again to meet them.

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Andhra minister inaugurates O2 plant funded by Sonu Sood


Andhra Pradesh Industries Minister Mekapati Goutham Reddy on Friday inaugurated an oxygen plant funded by Bollywood actor Sonu Sood at Atmakuru in Nellore district.

The plant has been built at a cost of Rs 1.5 crore in Atmakuru, which also happens to be the Assembly constituency of Reddy.

On behalf of the people of Atmakuru, the minister invited Sood to visit the constituency. Incidentally, the popular actor has agreed to visit Atmakuru in the next two months.

“Instead of building the plant in an urban area which has all the facilities, Sood built the oxygen plant in a rural set up, which shows his wholeheartedness,” Reddy said.

Meanwhile, Nagalakshmi, a specially-abled woman, came forward to donate Rs 25,000 each to the Sonu Sood Foundation and the Andhra Pradesh CM Relief Fund. Reddy felicitated her for her philanthropy.

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Andhra mulling mega IT park in Visakhapatnam


Andhra Pradesh Industries Minister Mekapati Goutham Reddy on Friday directed officials to explore the viability of establishing a mega IT office complex at, on the lines of Raheja Mindspace in Hyderabad.

Reddy directed officials to appraise anyplace near the millennium tower in the port city for the future IT park.

“The IT industry is the sector which can provide jobs in huge numbers,” noted Reddy, even as the Mindspace complex standing on just nine acres of land in the Hitech city area of Hyderabad houses several companies and provides thousands of jobs.

However, he observed that Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy ‘was not wishing for business process outsourcing jobs alone when they talked about IT jobs’.

He said the government aims to facilitate the creation of IT jobs in which the youths take pride, and also provide as many jobs as possible with the creation of an IT park in Vizag or Visakhapatnam.

Citing examples of several big IT offices, the Industries Minister said that a BPO company came forward with 8,000 jobs.

“We will intensify our focus on the IT sector in the coming days. Though there are financial difficulties, if we concentrate we can mould the existing circumstances into suitable opportunities,” he said.

The Minister added that IT was the only sector which offers various services to multiple government departments.

Vizag is soon expected to become the executive capital of the southern state as the Chief Minister has decided to trifurcate the state’s capital city into three, executive capital in Vizag, legislative capital in Amaravati and judicial capital in Kurnool.

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Jagan govt makes its stand clear on local body polls


As expected, the Jagan Mohan Reddy government seems to be in no mood to hold elections to local bodies anytime soon.

With the State Election Commissioner Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar preparing to hold local body polls in state, the YSRCP party leaders have clarified that the government will not conduct the elections in November.

Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar called for an all party meeting on October 28 to discuss various aspects of holding elections. Now with the Central and state governments easing Covid restrictions, Ramesh is planning to hold deliberations with all the political parties for conduct of local body elections.

Industries minister Mekapati Gautam Reddy spelled out his government’s stand on holding elections.

After attending a meeting of the State Level Bankers Committee in Tadepalli, Gautam Reddy said currently the Covid-19 situation has improved with the declining caseload. However, he predicted a second and even third wave of Covid-19. The minister, as if he had a crystal ball, said the cases will increase in November. “Elections in states like Bihar are mandatory and we have some leeway for local body elections,” he said. Last month, the Andhra Pradesh government had even filed an affadavit in the High Court stating that local body polls should not be held in view of Covid-19.

The local body elections were cancelled in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic. Ramesh Kumar was removed as SEC by the state government following his decision on March 15 to postpone the local body elections that were scheduled to be held in the last week of March.

Ramesh Kumar had cited the outbreak of coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdown as reasons behind his decision, but chief minister Jagan Mohan Reddy and state chief secretary Nilam Sawhney vehemently opposed his decision. Ramesh Kumar’s decision to postpone the local body elections had stirred a hornet’s nest in state politics.

The Jagan government had promulgated an ordinance reducing the term of the state election commissioner from five years to three and Ramesh Kumar was removed from the position.

The Andhra Pradesh government overnight appointed retired Madras High Court judge justice Kanagaraj as the chief election commissioner. Ramesh Kumar had challenged his termination and the appointment of Kanagaraj in his position in the AP High Court which ruled in his favor dismissing the state government’s ordinance for constitutional validity. Ramesh Kumar was later reinstated as SEC.

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State govt to take onus of creating green system: AP minister


Instead of following other states on the beaten track to woo foreign investors, Andhra Pradesh has set out to strengthen its MSME sector and build an investment-friendly ecosystem for big ticket investments by the time the Covid-19 clouds clear up.

Speaking to IANS, Mekapati Gautam Reddy, Andhra Pradesh’s Minister for Industries, Commerce and IT, said that the Vizag gas leak mishap has also led the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government to re-examine the state’s industrial policy.

Q: How is Andhra Pradesh handling the Covid-19 impact on its industry?

A: We were the first state or rather the only state to address the MSME sector. During this crisis, we paid 5 years of outstanding incentives that were due to the sector, totalling about Rs 963 crores. We paid it in 2 instalments within two months. So out of 97,000 units, 40,000 units were benefitted. So today while banks are reluctant to lend, people have surplus cash and they want to go into expanding mode. Those who were employing 10 people are saying they want to employ 20 more people. So actual employment is taking place, because MSME sector is the backbone. If you see, MSME expansion is taking place in Andhra Pradesh.

Q: During the prolonged lockdown, your neighbouring states such as Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Telangana went into overdrive to attract foreign investors. Why has Andhra Pradesh maintained a low profile on this front?

A: Firstly, our CM said, please don’t do any MoUs without any guarantees of investment. If you look at the last 3 months, we have attracted Rs 4000 crore of investment. And we also believe we need to do structural strengthening. What is it that investors want? So we said, first of all we will create a world class infrastructure industrial park. With notified, classified zones. So, if it’s a red zone, only red industries would be allowed to come there and no other industries. In a green zone, a red one industry cannot go. So, we should actually map out the entire state.

Our target is to deliver 45,000 acres of industrial land complete in terms of all services typical of Hong Kong, China or Sri City, which is our role model. And second most important thing which the CM has said, we’re going to create a world class workforce for tomorrow. So, we’re investing in 13 skill development colleges, in every MP’s constituency. The idea is to create apprenticeship, create word class curriculum for the next batch of workers, and when we have these basic ingredients, when we can deliver on infrastructure and create a working work force.

Q: How do you plan to build a sustainable investment climate in Andhra Pradesh?

A: We have strategic strengths. We have a long coastline, we’re going to develop 3 major ports. Naturally industries would be aligned to come here. But for this to be sustainable, I personally believe incentives are not great value creators in the system. On the contrary, they actually create the kind of businessmen whose model is only running on these incentives. So, they do not develop an ecoculture, will not invest back in the expansion of units, will not create infrastructure for training of the people.

So the state in the long term loses out. I would rather get a valuable, renowned investor, somebody like the Tatas, who would invest in my system. I’d rather give him all the services, because I know he’ll plan for the next 100 years. Of course, all are not Tatas. But then we’re also creating an active entrepreneurship climate by reactivating the APIIDC.

Q: Ever since Unlock, Visakhapatnam has witnessed a series of industrial mishaps beginning with the LG Polymers gas leak. Where do you think things are going wrong?

A: These are regular, not out of the blue, sudden catastrophic actions that have taken place. But what has happened is in this crisis situation of Covid pandemic, people are a little more sensitive. But if you really look at it, whether it’s an LG or somebody else, it’s a basic lethargy which sort of creeps into the system when you have a prolonged lockdown and that’s why we have asked all our chemical companies to have a relook at all their protocols.

Q: Do you think that the speed at which action was taken in the LG Polymers gas leak case will have an adverse impact on investment sentiment?

A: If you look at it, we did not arrest people till the investigation submitted its report. Our paramount concern was we better put the guys back, because they’re the guys who know where the valve is, what chemical they are using or which chemical is in what storage. If you ask the pollution control guy, he has no clue. So, we felt rather than disrupt and if suppose we start arresting people from day one, suppose there’s no one to manage the system, it could have been more catastrophic… Only after the member committee submitted its report, we arrested the guilty. Only after 2 months we arrested the guilty.

Q: So how are you going to walk the tightrope between attracting investors and ensuring people’s safety?

A: That’s the reason why we’re going back to our drawing boards, our fundamentals. This industry (LG Polymers) when it was started, was a certified industrial area where there were no settlements back in 1961. But indiscipline creeps in, due to surging population and stress on land, people relent, slowly buffer zones become municipal areas. When I went to the place the day after the mishap, I saw next to the tank, on the periphery there is a huge settlement of 3,000 people. How the hell did the system allow it to come in?

So, instead of blaming anybody, I said let’s bring in sacrosanct laws. Let’s first zone the entire state. A red zone industry will not be allowed to be set up in any other zone. It also becomes easier for us to provide common shared facilities; we’re going to bring in strong pollution monitoring systems where we’re going to charge these people. In the new system we are putting in place, the government is taking the onus to ensure creation of an environment-friendly system and making sure because if we give to any of these companies they are not as efficient as what we believe them to be.

Q: Which sectors is Andhra Pradesh focusing for the immediate future?

A: As a state we are investing more in medical infrastructure… for the next 6 to 9 months. I think creating that security, by way of bringing in more medical infrastructure and creating that kind of facilities will actually be what the government’s focus will be. This will also help us in creating medical equipment. Medical equipment is also something we are now looking at. We already have a MedTech Zone at Visakhapatnam which has the success story of bringing out India’s first Covid-19 test kit. Now we’re bringing ventilators out which are going to cost a fraction of the original price. Very soon we’re coming out with an MRI system also from there.

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Gas leak due to lapses, none will be spared: Gautham Reddy


Commerce and IT Minister Mekapati Gautham Reddy on Friday admitted that the gas leak in LG Polymers occurred due to some lapse in following the prescribed protocols and criminal action will be initiated against any industry or factory that is found to have violated standard operating procedures.

The gas had leaked out of two 5,000-tonne tanks that had been unattended due to coronavirus lockdown in place since late March. The plant was reopened after easing of the lockdown regulations without proper safety measures and adequate maintenance before starting production work led to the tragedy. The plant is owned by the South Korean company LG Corp. Pawan Kalyan and Jana Sena Party president demanded for an ‘Industrial safety audit’ in Visakhapatnam and North Coastal Andhra. In a recent tweet, he wrote, “Janasena demands for an ‘Industrial safety audit’ in Visakhapatnam and North Coastal Andra. I also appeal to EAS Sarma garu and Janapareddy Ratnam garu to demand for an industrial safety audit in these polluted industrial zones.” TDP chief and former CM N Chandrababu Naidu demanded that LG Polymers be relocated to an area where there is no human habitation.

“None will be spared,” Gautham Reddy who spoke to mediapersons on Friday after meeting LG Polymers officials said, adding the state government will enforce strict protocols in reopening of industrial units in the state. “The state government told in no uncertain terms to the South Korean Ambassador that they should act in a responsible manner and follow all steps they take when such a mishap occurs in the USA or Europe. We are reworking our system to ensure such hazardous situations do not arise,” he said. He said around 86 industrial units recognized by the state government will be put through stringent safety audit before they restart their operations.

A day after the styrene gas leak from the LG Polymers plant at R R Venkatapuram that left 12 dead and hundreds hospitalized, the Industries minister said the situation in the region was “safe and under control” and there was no need to panic as experts in the field were engaged in neutralizing the gas leak impact. “We expect the situation to be normalized with 48 hours to 78 hours. The regular operation of the plant has not started and it was only under regular maintenance,” he said.

The government on Friday set up a high-power committee comprising senior IAS officers special principal secretary Neerab Kumar Prasaad, Pollution Control Board member Vivek Yadav, district Collector of Visakhapatnam Vinay Chand, City Police Commissioner Rajiv Kumar Meena. The committee has been tasked to conduct a thorough probe into the gas leak and submit a report within a month.

Ordering a probe into the gas leak on Thursday, Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy, however, called LG Polymers as a reputed multinational company and it was unfortunate that such an incident occurred in a company that is known to follow stringent protocols. When the LG Polymers officials met Jagan at Vizag airport lounge, the Chief Minister told the officials that the state government had ordered a probe and that the future course of action depends on the outcome of the probe report. Talking to mediapersons after consoling gas leak victims at KGH on Thursday, the CM stated that the government will think of relocating the LG Polymers, if required.

The death toll due to the toxic gas leak rose to 12 on Friday when one more gas leak victim succumbed after inhaling toxic fumes from LG Polymers Company. Hundreds of gas leak victims were still undergoing treatment at various hospitals, some of them are critical. Nearly 24 hours after a major gas leak in South Korean LG Polymers Company, news of thick fumes billowing out of the gas tanks in the factory for the second time on Friday midnight had people scurry for their lives.

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