Year of hits and flops for Andhra Pradesh
The year 2016 proved to be a mix of hits and flops for the two-and-a-half-year-old Andhra Pradesh with many contrasts in its new chapter of history.
The year 2016 proved to be a mix of hits and flops for the two-and-a-half-year-old Andhra Pradesh with many contrasts in its new chapter of history. The only momentous event to happen this year was the shifting of the State's administrative base to the new capital region Amaravati from Hyderabad, the joint capital Andhra Pradesh could otherwise share with Telangana till June 1, 2024. After many false starts, the Andhra Pradesh Secretariat (though temporary) finally started functioning at Velagapudi village from October. On the same note, the Chandrababu Naidu government's single biggest failure thus far has been its inability to begin the development of the State's new capital city.
After coming out with a series of spectacular images of the would-be capital city, the government spent the whole of 2016 without finalising a single design for Amaravati, thereby further delaying construction activity. The State achieved a 'double digit' economic growth rate, the high point the administration boasts of. In reality, however, the state is struggling to make ends meet because of huge revenue deficit - a carryover from the bifurcation (in June 2014). In 2015-16, the state's economy grew at 10.99 per cent and, in the first half of 2016-17, it went up to 12. 23 per cent.
There are too many ironies in the State's economic story. The revenue earnings rose to Rs 22,800 crore in the first half of the 2016-17 financial year as against Rs 20,166 crore in the corresponding period last year, marking a 13.05 per cent increase. But the mounting revenue deficit that stood at Rs 6,641 crore during the first half of this fiscal has become worrisome. In fact, the government estimated an overall revenue deficit of Rs 4,868 crore in 2016-17 but increased spending has resulted in a huge gap. And now, demonetisation could not have come at a worst time for the state to cause a further dent to its sagging economy, with revenues dipping by 30 per cent.
AP topped the list in Ease of Doing Business rankings in the country but it didn't really bring in expected or promised investments and everything remained only "in the pipeline" thus far. As per government claims, close to Rs 4 lakh crore worth investments were to flow into the State in different sectors, going by the number of MoUs signed during the Partnership Summit in January 2016. But many MoUs still remain only on paper.
Andhra Pradesh couldn't achieve the promised 'Special Category State' status and had to settle for a 'special economic package' that has not yet been 'operationalised'. The power sector has been the real crowning glory for Andhra Pradesh with the state ranking on top in energy efficiency in the country this year.
State power utilities won numerous awards at the national level on different efficiency parameters even as Andhra Pradesh turned power surplus (over 10,000 million units) and has also transformed into a 'seller' from a 'purchaser'. On the political power front, the ruling Telugu Desam made itself stronger by luring as many as 21 out of 67 MLAs of the only Opposition YSR Congress into its fold. The Opposition's weakness on all political counts has become the strength of the ruling party which otherwise started facing rough weather among the electorate for a variety of reasons.
The Congress is still in the dumps while the BJP - the TDP's partner in power - hasn't gained muscle. Having spent more than a year in hibernation, film star and Jana Sena Party founder Pawan Kalyan made a sudden 're-entry' into the political arena in the second half of 2016 and conducted three public meetings demanding special category state status to Andhra Pradesh. And then, he went back to the tinsel town to complete his film assignments.
Of course, he took to Twitter this month to fire at both the Centre and the state governments on issues like Rohit Vemula's death and demonetisation. But it only caused a backfire in the social media as Kalyan became a subject of ridicule over his ill-timed diatribe. Politics aside, year 2017 for sure holds out a lot of hope for Andhra Pradesh citizens as it could essentially herald the development of their dream capital city.