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Nothing special, smartly packaged

Nothing special, smartly packaged
Highlights

The much-awaited special package has been announced for the State of Andhra Pradesh. The brand managers at the Centre seem to have smartly packaged the provisions of Andhra Pradesh State Reorganisation Act with some incremental addition. The crucial question of according special status to Andhra Pradesh is, however, put on the back burner.  Empty rhetoric still continues on the special status. 

The much-awaited special package has been announced for the State of Andhra Pradesh. The brand managers at the Centre seem to have smartly packaged the provisions of Andhra Pradesh State Reorganisation Act with some incremental addition. The crucial question of according special status to Andhra Pradesh is, however, put on the back burner. Empty rhetoric still continues on the special status.

Quantification of the benefits that shall accrue under the State Reorganisation Act would not mean a fiscal bonanza for the State adversely hit by the arbitrary bifurcation.

The Section 90(1) of the Reorganisation Act says, “The Polavaram Irrigation Project is hereby declared to be a national project.”

The Section 90(2) further says, “It is hereby declared that it is expedient in the public interest that the Union should take under its control the regulation and development of the Polavaram Irrigation Project.”

The announcement after two years is certainly not expeditious. The Finance Minister has now announced that the Centre will contribute total funding for the Polavaram project.

The Section 94(1) of the bifurcation act says, “The Central Government shall take appropriate fiscal measures, including offer of tax incentives, to the successor States, to promote industrialization and economic growth in both the States.” Now the Centre has only stated it again. In fact, these tax incentives are doubtful in the post-GST regime.

The only thing offered afresh is the equivalent monetary advantage that would have accrued if special status was accorded. As a special central assistance, the Centre would fund 90 per cent of expenditure for implementing certain projects. The other assurance to the State like railway zone still remains under consideration.

The Finance Minister once again referred to industrial corridors. In fact, the act clearly states that the Government of India shall, within six months from the appointed day, examine the feasibility of establishing a Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor on the lines of Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and take within such period an expeditious decision thereon; reiterating the same again after a span of two years is nothing expeditious.

The Centre has once and for all made it clear that it has no intention to grant special status to Andhra Pradesh. Surprisingly, the Centre could not even come out with any reasonable plan of assistance to the State. Barring cosmetic additions, the Centre has only confined to the implementation of the act itself, which is anyhow a constitutional mandate.

The unprecedented political spectacle enacted till late in the night is an exercise in evasion. Finally, the Centre indulges in travesty of justice to the people of Andhra Pradesh aggrieved by the bifurcation of the State contrary to their wishes. The issue would not die down. The political manifestations of Centre’s empty rhetoric are not without political implications.

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