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Will Modi Govt act fast to stop AP economic decline?


Greater concerns were being expressed from various quarters for several months on the fast deteriorating financial situation in Andhra Pradesh. The Jagan Reddy Government is giving total 100 per cent priority to the Cash Transfer welfare programmes ever since it came to power 18 months ago. As a result, almost all developmental programmes have been badly hit. From Amaravati to Polavaram to hospitals infrastructure, all projects are in crisis now.

The situation has come to such a sorry state that former Union Minister and MP Suresh Prabhu has raised this issue now. He has written a letter to none other than Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitaraman to take corrective measures before the situation slips out of control. Suresh Prabhu’s concern for AP is because he got elected to Rajya Sabha from the State.

The subjects raised by Prabhu are nothing new in the State. Different sections including the Opposition have been appealing to the CM to give equal priority to developmental projects so that the State economy will not slide any further.

Now, funds are not being given to various corporations in the State. All this money is diverted to ‘Jagananna’ welfare programmes only. This will affect people’s productivity and the State’s growth rate. Already, AP is running into debts. The Government is making loans over and above the FRBM limits. No doubt, it is a now or never situation as long as correctional measures are concerned regarding AP economic decline.

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H1B, L1 visas’ issue taken up with US: Prabhu


India has emphatically raised with the US administration the issue of H1B and L1 visas, which have facilitated the entry Indian IT professionals, thereby, immensely benefiting the American economy, Commerce Minister Suresh Prabhu said on Saturday.

“We raised very strongly the issue of Indian professionals and H1B and L1 visa issues,” Prabhu told reporters here at the end of his official visit to the US during which India held the first trade talks with the US following the election of President Donald Trump.

“We are raising this issue the US economy itself will find it difficult to cope with the reality because the country has immensely benefited by IT professionals penetrating into the market by offering services that has improved their productivity,” he said.

Following Trump’s election on a protectionist platform, the US has announced stricter norms for issuing the H1B and L1 visas.

During his visit over October 25-28, Prabhu held talks with the US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer under the framework of the bilateral Trade Policy Forum (TPF) and co-chaired India-US Commercial Dialogue along with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Prabhu said both countries agreed to address the issue of trade deficit by increasing and diversifying bilateral trade.

He also said India has sought easing of procedures for export of mangoes and pomegranates to the US.

Prabhu cited Ross as saying that reducing imports from India is not an option to address the trade deficit.

“The Commerce Secretary clearly said that trade deficit is an issue, but not by reducing imports from India but promoting more exports from the US to India which is absolutely a very positive and an extremely forward-looking idea, which we welcome,” Prabhu said.

Declaring that India would actually be able to buy more from the US in few years, he noted that New Delhi has started buying crude oil from Washington and there was great potential for America in the fast-expanding aviation market in India.

At the end of his visit, Prabhu leaves for Cuba, where he will be in Havana from October 28-31 to hold discussions on boosting bilateral trade.

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Prabhu offers to quit after train derails, PM asks him to wait


Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Wednesday met Prime Minister Narendra Modi and offered to resign “taking full responsibility” for train accidents and said Modi had asked him to “wait”.

Hours after a second train derailed in four days, Prabhu called on the Prime Minister “taking full responsibility” for the state of affairs. “PM has asked me to wait,” he tweeted.

On Saturday, the Kalinga Utkal Express derailed in Muzaffarnagar district leaving 22 people dead. Even as the railways cracked down on errant officials and staff, the Kaifiyat Express derailed in Auraiya district on Wednesday injuring 74 people. Both accidents took place in Uttar Pradesh.

Though Prabhu did not specifically mention that he had offered to resign, there has been intense speculation that he may have offered to resign considering the language of his tweets.

Railway Board Chairman A.K. Mittal has also offered to resign in the wake of the accidents. But there was no confirmation if Mittal has quit.

“I am extremely pained by the unfortunate accidents, injuries to passengers and loss of precious lives. It has caused me deep anguish,” the Railway Minister said.

“New India envisioned by PM deserves a Railways which is efficient and modern. I promise that is the path, on which Railways is progressing now.”

Prabhu said that he had tried to overcome “decades of neglect through systemic reforms in all areas leading to unprecedented investment and milestones”.

He said in less than three years as Minister, “I have devoted my blood and sweat for the betterment of the Railways”.

A Chartered Accountant by profession, 64-year-old Prabhu — formerly in the Shiv Sena — joined the BJP in May 2014 before he was inducted into the cabinet as the Railway Minister.

After the Saturday accident involving the Kalinga Utkal Express, the Congress said that since the Modi government took power in 2014, 259 passengers had died and 899 had been injured in 27 rail accidents.

An initial probe into the Kalinga Utkal Express tragedy found that the accident was caused due to negligence by railway staff.

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Chandrababu says Vishaka Railway Zone is long-pending wish of people


Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu said that Vishakapatnam Railway Zone is dream of people and requested Union Minister Suresh Prabhu to speed up the process. TDP chief along with Union Minister of Railways inaugurated several rail infra developmental works at Tummalapalli Kalakshetram on Thursday. Naidu declared that the TDP government is prepared to reduce power tariff for railways.

The TDP supremo appreciating Prabhu’s efforts for state railways, requested rail connectivity to Amaravati. He requested to enhance connectivity between Amaravati-Chennai-Hyderabad, Amaravati-Bengaluru. As per the CM’s request, Prabhu assured connectivity to the new capital. He said AP was ahead of others in development of railways and would soon emerge as a logistics hub. The Rajya Sabha MP also mentioned that said the projects would be taken up at a cost of ₹1.31 lakh crore.

On the ocassion Vijayawada-Howrah Hamsafar weekly express, Tirupati-Jamutavi weekly super-fast train were flagged off. Mechanised laundry at Tirupati, three-phase electric locomotive simulator, doubling of Gutti-Dharmavaram and Guntakal-Rayachur-Wadi line, Vijayawada-Gudivada, Bhimavaram-Machilipatnam and Narasapur-Nidadavole sections were sanctioned.

Along with Naidu and Prabhu, M Venkaiah Naidu and P Ashok Gajapathi Raju participated in the function where railway projects were launched through video link.

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Railway Zone for AP, Konatala writes to Railway Minister


Visakhapatnam: Former MP and former Minister, Konatala Ramakrishna had written a letter to Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu asking him to expedite the process to establish a railway zone for Andhra Pradesh at Visakhapatnam. The former minister said that the railway zone for residuary State of Andhra Pradesh was part of the AP Reorganisation Act 2014 and it was the responsibility of the government to fulfil it. The former minister had earlier written a letter on Septmber 3, 2016 and sought to remind the Minister of the Constitutional obligation to be fulfilled.

He said that the AP Reorgansiation Act had promised to complete the process within six months from the appointed day, June 2, and expedite the process. However, it is almost three years that the State was bifurcated, he said and regretted that the constitutional obligation is not fulfilled yet. He recalled that a committee was constituted to examine the zone issue and a report was already submitted to the government. He wondered why the government is sitting on the report without getting into action.

He said he had filed a petition in the Hyderabad High Court seeking expedition of establishing railway zone with headquarters at Visakhapatnam and added that the petition is set to come for hearing in the first week of June. By then the State would complete three years after reorganisation, he added and wanted the government to act at least now to fulfil the constitutional obligation. He said that the people of the State were waiting for the zone to help in the development of the State. Denial of zone would make people fight for their rights, he asserted.

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Prabhu launches new rail coach with glass roof, GPS

Railway Minister Suresh Prabhu on Sunday inaugurated the new Vistadome coach which has glass roof, LED lights, GPS-based info system and rotating seats among other features.

While flagging off the train with Vistadome coaches between Visakhapatnam and Araku through video conferencing from Rail Sadan here, he said that the Vistadome coaches’ features will enable tourists to enjoy scenic beauty along the journey.

Prabhu also laid the foundation stone for mechanised laundry at Visakhapatnam, which he said will significantly improve the quality of linen provided on the trains and would lead to enhanced passenger satisfaction.

Inaugurating the Life Line Express-Sindhudurg of Konkan Railway, he said it will be a great help to poor patients.

A function was also arranged at Visakhapatnam in which a number of public representatives including MP Kothapalli Geetha and several MLAs were present.

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