VIJAYAWADA: Persistent protests by TDP MPs in both Houses of Parliament finally forced the Central government to relent on Friday, the last day of the first half of the Budget Session, and come up with a concrete action plan to implement assurances given to the State in the AP Reorganisation Act. The Centre’s change of heart came at a meeting held by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, Railway Minister Piyush Goyal, and BJP chief Amit Shah with TDP senior leader and Union Minister of State for Science and Technology YS Chowdary late in the evening.
The meeting was convened after TDP chief and Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu insisted on a deadline for the taking the assurances given by Jaitley in Parliament to their logical conclusion. It is learnt that as per the agreement between the two sides, the Centre has agreed to reimburse revenue deficit of the first 10 months of the fiscal year 2014-15 at one go and the rest annually thereafter. On the inordinately delayed Central assistance through externally-aided projects (EPAs), promised under the special package announced for the State, the Centre has decided to “adjust it”.
The interesting part of the deal was the Centre’s readiness to reimburse financial aid promised in lieu of the special category status for a period of three years at one go. Nonetheless, there was no official announcement either by the Centre or the State when reports last came in. When contacted, a TDP MP told TNIE that he was not aware of the full details. The other significant outcome, reports claimed, was Jaitley’s assurance to streamline funding for the construction of the capital city, Amaravati, through a mechanism akin to that of the Polavaram irrigation project. However, for this, the State government will have to submit bills periodically as and when required.
But perhaps the biggest achievement for the Chief Minister was the Centre’s agreement to draft an action plan within the next week or 10 days to address all pending issues and come up with announcements accordingly before the Budget Session resumes on March 5. The meeting that lasted for well over two-and-a-half hours, addressed most of the issues including railway zone at Visakhapatnam. The Centre will now make an announcement on the same within the next few days. But there was disappointment on the proposed port at Dugarajaptnam.
Jaitley informed Chowdary that ISRO had objected to it and suggested that the State recommend a port elsewhere. As for the steel plant at Kadapa, it appears that a report will be submitted on Feb 12 and it will now be constructed in private-public partnership mode. There is good news on the Visakha- Chennai and Chennai-Kadapa industrial corridor too with the Centre vowing to expedite the works and formulate incentives and norms in the near future.
With regard to the promised petro-chemical complex, Jaitley said orders had been issued. The Union Home Ministry will also make an announcement on setting up a greyhounds centre in the State. Similarly, Jaitley assured Chowdary that division of institutions listed in Schedule IX of the Reorganisation Act between Telangana and Andhra would be done soon. Jaitley informed Chowdary that he could not make any announcement on Andhra Pradesh in the Budget Session since it would be in violation of Parliamentary norms.