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Both budgets betray AP

Both budgets betray AP
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Both budgets betray AP.In 2014, much to the disappointment of people of Seemandhra region, Andhra Pradesh was unfairly divided leaving the residuary State of Andhra Pradesh without a capital.

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In 2014, much to the disappointment of people of Seemandhra region, Andhra Pradesh was unfairly divided leaving the residuary State of Andhra Pradesh without a capital. Its major investments in the last fifty eight years in Hyderabad no longer belonged to it and its economy is in a severe financial crisis. After the division, many in Andhra Pradesh hoped that at least the promises of assistance to Andhra Pradesh that were made at the time of passage of AP Reorganisation Act in Parliament in February 2014 would be fulfilled.

But the Union Budgets in 2014 and 2015 left the people of Andhra Pradesh distressed and angry. When precious little was offered to AP in the 2014 budget, some said that it was an interim budget and that the Central Government needs to be given some time to plan and execute something significant to the newly formed but cash starved residuary State of Andhra Pradesh. Eight months have passed since division took place and many in the state pinned their hopes on the 2015 Union Budget. But the eagerly anticipated budget too provided too little for Andhra Pradesh.

In the budget, there was no mention of the promised “Special Status” or any “special package” to Andhra Pradesh. No allocations were made for building the new capital or for upgrading the embarrassingly small capital airport at Gannavaram. The Polavaram Project which was accorded national project status by the Centre, which the state government wished to complete in less than five years, was allocated an absurdly inadequate Rs 100 crore when the project’s pending requirement was in excess of Rs 15,000 crore!

Although the expected revenue deficits of Andhra Pradesh in the next five years are likely to be overcome with the approval of the recommendations of the 14th Finance Commission by the Union Government, this type of central assistance is not exclusive to Andhra Pradesh but provided to the ten other states in India as well. Andhra Pradesh is a new state without a capital and required special concessions and packages. Instead, it got a raw deal.

No wonder, AP CM Chandrababu Naidu expressed his displeasure that the Finance Commission did not take into consideration the additional huge financial assistance required for a new state without a capital. In fact, when CM Chandrababu Naidu met members of the 14th Finance Commission in Tirupati last September, he sought special status for Andhra Pradesh for five years, a special initial grant of Rs 1,00,213 crore (out of a total requirement of Rs. 4,00,000 crore) for building the new capital, additional grant of Rs 41,253 crore for backward regions especially Rayalaseema and north coastal AP and other financial incentives to tide over the financial crisis.

In the context of providing something beneficial to Andhra Pradesh, the railway budget did no better. There was no mention of the much anticipated railway zone for Vizag in the railway budget. The unhelpful attitude of the Union Government was evident even earlier in the case of Hudhud cyclone. The country’s first truly urban cyclone pounded Vizag on October 13 last year and inflicted a lot of destruction on AP’s largest city and its surrounding districts. PM Narendra Modi visited Vizag the next day and announced an interim assistance of Rs 1,000 crore. The State Government later estimated the loss at Rs 21,900 crore and forwarded it to the Centre. A Central team visited Vizag in December two months after the cyclone and pegged the losses at less than Rs 680 crore!

The paltry budgetary allocations for Andhra Pradesh and the Hudhud cyclone compensation chronology remind me of a famous election campaign remark made by Narendra Modi “after” the BJP in a way assisted and let the Congress go ahead with the unjust and lopsided Andhra Pradesh division in Parliament. While addressing an election rally then, Modi said “We wanted both Telangana and Seemandhra to thrive, but the Congress is a doctor that believes in killing the mother while delivering a child". It was nice to hear then but sounds as a shallow sympathy now.

(The author is a practising physician at Narsapur)

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