Botcha Takes Out Jalayagnam ‘Contract’ on Kiran - The New Indian Express

Botcha Takes Out Jalayagnam ‘Contract’ on Kiran

Published: 16th Feb 2014 10:29:06 AM

It is payback time for Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Kiran Kumar Reddy. A suitable political weapon has been found in the form of the “largesse to Jalayagnam contractors” to hit back at Kiran, who has been a constant trouble-maker since the Congress Working Committee decided on the formation of Telangana. Kiran’s bête noires APCC president Botcha Satyanarayana and Deputy Chief Minister and Telangana champion C Damodara Rajanarasimha are leading the charge against him.

The government’s sudden decision to enhance the budgetary allocation to the irrigation project works under Jalayagnam to the tune of `20,000 crore has become controversial. As the key decision was taken without prior approval of the cabinet, eyebrows are being raised as to why the government has taken such an important decision, which could provide a massive benefit to contractors at this juncture. A GO, GOMs-13, was issued by the government on February 7 escalating the budgetary allocations to the ongoing works in Jalayagnam to `20,000 crore.

Rajanarasimha dashed off a letter to the chief minister questioning the motive for this decision. Early this week, when the Cabinet had met in the Assembly premises to clear vote-on-account, Botcha is also learnt to have cornered the chief minister on the same. Botcha reportedly harangued at Kiran, saying, “This decision benefits the contractors and imposes huge burden on exchequer. How could the government issue such an important GO without consulting the cabinet?” At the meeting, Botcha circulated a letter which he wrote to the chief minister, demanding immediate withdrawal of the GO.

The GO provides many clauses which will benefit private agencies in terms of flexibility to the contractors on account of various aspects of work. New clauses regarding payments to labour and material costs have been incorporated in the GO to the advantage of contractors. For instance, contractors can claim `10,500 for every acre of ayacut for constructing additional distributories. They can also claim market rates for labour and material cost for every package of work from April 1, 2013. If their first phase of agreement is over, the government will reimburse their commission on bank guarantee as well as insurance premium apart from the service tax. However, this step is being seen by several ministers as a decision only to benefit the contractors.

Later, Botcha demanded action against chief secretary PK Mohanty for not consulting the cabinet before releasing the GO.

WHAT IS Jalayagnam

The project accords the highest priority for the development of irrigation infrastructure, particularly in backward and drought prone areas. It intends to complete 32 major and 17 medium irrigation projects at a cost of Rs 65,000 crores to provide irrigation to an extent of 71 lakh acres besides stabilization of an existing ayacut of 21.32 lakh acres while providing drinking water to a population of 1.2 crore and generating power to the tune of 2700 MW.

Kiran’s protests

February 5: Sits in a dharna at Jantar Mantar in Delhi, denouncing the decision of the Congress to divide the state. State and central ministers from Seemandhra join him.

February 3: Kiran Reddy meets President of India and urges him not to refer the T bill to Parliament since it has been defeated by the state Assembly.

Jan 30: T Bill defeated in the state Assembly. A resolution saying that the Assembly was rejecting the T Bill moved by Kiran Reddy is passed by voice vote.

Dec 2013: Kiran asks ministers and MLAs to join hands with Seemandhra parties—TDP and YSRC and fight for Samaikyandhra in the wake of the Central Cabinet clearing the T bill.

Aug, 2013: Kiran Reddy attacks the party leadership for the first time for taking a decision to divide the state at the CWC meeting on July 30.

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