‘NJP’s amendments are pedestrian and lack imagination’

Noted activist Narasimha Reddy Donthi’s observation on Nagabhairava Jayaprakash Narayan’s Magical Formula on Telangana issue:

[Amendments proposed by Nagabhairava Jayaprakash Narayana to AP State Reorganization Bill 2013, as part of his “Magical Formula’ can be read here]

1. In the Constitution, there is no provision for Special Category Region. We either have States or Union territories. NJP’s proposal smacks of his ignorance that he wants this Special Category Region be on par with NE States. He is equating a Region with a State.

NJP’s proposal of increasing subsidies to cover revenue deficit, contradicts his earlier statements that subsidies increase revenue deficit. Probably, electoral considerations are forcing him to compromise on his positions. And, what kind of economic revival will bridge the revenue deficit, if the industries which are considered engine of such revival do not pay tax? undeniably, the revenue deficit would have to be filled by taxes, in some other way. NJN, who usually wants power to people, would like Rayalaseema people to pay more taxes, while he bats for tax subsidies for industrialists. It can be seen that he is arguing for a Rayalaseema where few people/families would continue to earn wealth at the cost of the multiitude.

And, what kind of industrial development he is hoping to happen in Rayalaseema, a water-parched area. Mining? What else can reduce revenue deficit in this mineral-rich, poverty-laden area? Will industrial development reduce water deficit? NJN does not understand the linkage between livelihoods and natural resources. His formula will increase the existing social divide and wealth disparities in Rayalaseema, sustain existing exploitative structures, condemn millions to penury and leave the region environmentally devastated.

2. To my knowledge, an Act cannot envisage/include a direction for a Constitutional Amendment. If 371k has to be brought about, it has to be outside and cannot be part of the Bill.

3. NJP asks for “minority status’ for people of Andhra Pradesh, outside Telangana, in Telangana State. He should know that this provision is constitutionally invalid. This would mean a permanent divide, as the these ‘minorities’ would be identified. If applied, it would foster disunity, than unity. Religious minorities are facing such a problem. It would permanently draw a line at the social level.

What benefit would such a status beget them? Would it give them jobs, or reservation of jobs? what is the objective of such status? If it is only about protection, it is guaranteed for every citizen of India, under Fundamental Rights. They need not seek any special status.

4. NJP proposes, “Consent for the Polavaram Irrigation Project is deemed to have been given by the successor state of Telangana”. a person who professes for decentralisation of power argues for deemed consent – what a surprise. It exposes his hollowness in responding to the power of the people and environment. He should also know that there is no deemed consent in any of the laws of the country.

5. Funnily, NJP starts with a proposal for declaration of Polavaram as a national project, and adds 4 more points. Why additional asks? Does it mean that declaration of ‘national project’ has no meaning? Or, he could have simply asked for “The Central Government shall complete the execution of the Polavaram Irrigation Project within a period of three years from the date of enactment of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2013.”

By asking for a National project, deemed consent, all clearances, execution and three years of time limit, simultaneously, NJN has exposed that he has little faith in Constitution and Constitutional procedures. He seems to be aiming for political gains, and some political brownie points, than with any serious thought on what best can be done.

6. I am surprised about this clause on Power purchase agreements in the Bill. Power purchase agreements have been controversial, and have been the results of corruption at high places. PPAs have been the sources of increase in power prices. NJN links them with power consumption of two districts, and thus endorses these PPAs. I am surprised by his naivete.

The Bill is trying to protect the interests of power plant entrepreneurs, and NJN is perpetuating such a protection, instead of rejecting such a protection. Is he with the people or with the power entrepreneurs? He could have simply proposed that PPAs would be amended/redrafted based on the power consumption of the existing geography of the residual States. This would have been an opportunity to cleanse corruption from all PPAs. Is NJN for corruption or against corruption?

7. NJP’s proposal that “unallocated power of Central Generating Stations will be allotted should be based on Gadgil formula, and not based on the actual energy consumption of the last 5 years of the relevant DISCOMS in the respective successor State. Is NJN trying to tell us that Gadgil formula is not based on actual consumption and on some other considerations? If so, NJN should have protested Gadgil formula and not actual consumption. He has not bothered to explain Gadgil formula and how it ensures equity in power sharing between the States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

8. With regard to other proposals, he merely adds time stipulation to the existing clauses.

After going through these amendments, I wonder where is this magic formula, he has proposed. These amendments are pedestrian, lack imagination and creative thinking. They merely endorse the continuation of existing social, political and economic systems. Instead if he was asking for decentralised, people-centric, local institutional empowerment and development, his formula could have been touted as an alternative and probably received wider support.

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