Union minister Y S Chowdary today admitted a “delay” by the government in announcing the financial package for Andhra Pradesh, which he attributed to “complexity” of the task and various policy-related changes.
He said the Centre will put the package announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for cabinet approval. “There is a genuine concern about the Constitutional validity of the current special state assistance being given to AP. The Centre is putting the same package announced by Finance Minister Arun Jaitley for cabinet approval and sanction,” the MoS for Science and Technology & Earth Sciences said.
The Centre had on September 7 announced the financial package for Andhra Pradesh, which financially suffered because of creation of a separate state of Telengana in June, 2014, that includes full funding of Polavaram irrigation project, tax concessions and a special assistance, but stopped short of giving the state a special category status. “We have also accepted that there has been a delay in this sanction and this should ideally have been done a bit earlier,” a release here quoted the minister as saying.
Chowdary said the special category status promised by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Rajya Sabha never included any special incentives to industries or job creation. “Special category status is a financial assistance provided to states in the context of centrally-sponsored schemes, wherein, special status states get up to 90 per cent central support while normal states get 60 per cent of central grants.
“The BJP-led NDA government has promised to give to the state of AP exactly the same amount as would have notionally accrued under special category. This debate is now only about the name,” the minister said. He said, “Complexity of the task and the changes like the abolition of Planning Commission and replacement with Niti Aayog, changes in plan and non-plan categorisation, and the subsequent changes made of Centre-State financial sharing rules under 14th Financial Plan took its toll on the schedules to close this package.”
“Polavaram was granted national status on floor of Rajya Sabha by Manmohan Singh, which would have guaranteed 90 per cent of funding. However, the NDA government has given AP a unique 100 per cent funding which is first time in India's history that any irrigation project, that too of this scale, has got complete funding from Centre,” he said. “For a project of over Rs 30,000 crore, the 10 per cent saved by AP is itself Rs 3,000 crore,” the minister said.
He said the backward districts financial package is no longer in vogue, “but we have secured an additional Rs 2,100 crore for the backwards districts of northern Andhra and Rayalaseema in particular.” “I urge the people of AP to study all the facts and appreciate that what we have procured for our state is one of the finest deals and it will continue till our state and people are back to the glory before the unfair bifurcation,” Chowdary said.