What’s holding up Telangana: MPs’ business interests

By Raman Kirpal

Ostensibly, the politicians agitating for a united Andhra Pradesh are battling for their people’s right to a fair share of resources. In reality, unknown to the people rallying behind their leaders’ call for strikes, blockages and picketing, senior leaders are actually battling to save their respective business interests in Telangana, in the garb of a ‘people’s protest’ for a united Andhra Pradesh.

For the Congress at the Centre, the Cabinet decision on statehood for Telangana is a carefully calculated one — 17 Lok Sabha seats in Telangana, likely to be won by the Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), will add to the Congress tally. In Seemandhra, which comprises Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra, leaders including sitting Congress MPs are outdoing one another staging protests to keep the status quo in Seemandhra, which sends 25 MPs to Parliament.

But look beyond the surface and you’ll find that what’s actually at stake is a series of multi-crore projects controlled by a small power elite. The projects, mostly for the backward Telangana region, could be lost along with contracts worth crores if a separate state of Telangana is formed. Here is who controls some of these projects:

YS Jaganmohan Reddy, who has taken the high moral ground on the issue and is leading the united Andhra front by sitting on indefinite fast, had allegedly influenced his father to allot SEZ land and various irrigation projects in Telangana region to a few companies. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), in an investigation running into thousands of pages, cites the case of Ramky Infrastructures Ltd. Ayodhya Rami Reddy, the promoter of Ramky Group, invested Rs 10 crore in Jagan’s company Jagati Publications Pvt Ltd. In an alleged quid pro quo, Ramky got SEZ land at Visakhapatnam “along with various irrigation projects,’’ according to the CBI. Ayodhya Rami Reddy is the brother of TDP MP Modugula Venugopala Reddy, who also has stakes in Ramky.

Modugula Venugopala Reddy escaped criminal charges because he relinquished all posts just before he became MP and made Ayodhya Rami Reddy the promoter of Ramky. CBI has booked Ayodhya Rami Reddy along with Jagan Mohan Reddy in this case. Official documents available with Firstpost reveal that Modugula’s Ramky has two major irrigation projects in Telangana. One Pranahita-Chevella Sujala Sravanthi project is worth Rs 229 crore located in Adilabad district. Ramky, in a joint venture, was also allotted Jyotiraopule Dummudgudem-Nagarjuna Sagar project worth Rs 2536 crore in the Telangana region. Interestingly, Union Textile Minister and Congress MP Kavuru Sambasiva Rao’s Progressive Constructions is part of Modugula’s Rs 2536 crore joint venture project in Telangana.

Kavuru Sambasiva Rao was among those Seemandhra politicians who offered their resignations after the Cabinet okayed the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. Seemandhra MP Modugula (Narasaraopet constituency) is also protesting against creation of Telangana.

Official documents disclose that most of the Seemandhra MPs protesting against creation of Telangana have business interests. Details of their projects in Telangana and status are as follows: Filmmaker and Congress MP T Subbirami Reddy runs Gayatri Group through his wife T Indira Subbarami Reddy. He has three projects worth Rs 2413 crore in Telangana:

• Jyotiraopule Dummudgudem-Nagarjuna Sagar Sujala Sravanthi Package No 8 worth Rs 1360.26 crore awarded to Gayatri-Ratna on 19 February 2009 for a deadline of three-years (18 August 2013). The contractors have spent Rs 60.94 crore (6.60 per cent of the total project money). No physical work has started as yet. Land acquisition is said to be a bottleneck.

• Jyotiraopule Dummudgudem-Nagarjuna Sagar Sujala Sravanthi Package No 9 worth Rs 771.36 crore awarded to Gayatri-Ratna on 19 February 2009 with a deadline expiring on 18 August 2013. The contractors have spent Rs 34.56 crore spent so far (4.48 per cent). No work has started. Land acquisition is a bottleneck.

• Rajiv Sagar Dummugudem Lift Irrigation Scheme Package No 33 worth Rs 281.61 crore awarded to Jaiprakash-Gayatri on 27 June 2007. Deadline was 26 February 2012. The Gayatri-led joint venture has availed 100 per cent money (rather surplus amount of Rs 302.95 crore including escalation). Reasons for delay are forest proposals for land acquisition.

Five-term Congress MP Rayapati Sambasiva Rao’s Transtroy India has Rs 1364 crore worth of irrigation projects in Telangana:

• Komarambheem Project (Package No 18) worth Rs 220 crore was awarded to a joint venture between Navyuga and Transstroy. Work is in progress.

• Pranahitha-Chevella Link Project (Package No 25) worth Rs 1144.13 crore. Work is stuck due to land acquisition problem. Mobilisation fund (advance money) of Rs 11.44 crore was availed.

Another TDP MP Nama Nageswara Rao’s Madhucon Projects has three irrigation projects worth Rs 1448 crore in Telangana region:

• Flood Flow canal from SRSP, Karimnagar Package No C1-17 worth Rs 200.90 crore awarded to Madhucon-Sino Hydro on 19 March 2005 with deadline 30 September 2007. Deadline was revised four times before the work was completed for Rs 205.88 crore including escalation price.

• Mahatma Gandhi-Kalwakurthy LI Scheme Package C1-29 awarded to Madhucon-Sinohydro for Rs 546.30 crore on 19 March 2005 with a 2-year deadline. 38 per cent money (Rs 208 crore) spent. Land acquisition is delayed due to non-availability of surveyors.

• Pranahita-Chevella Sujala Sravanthi Package No 18 worth Rs 700.75 crore awarded on 25 February 2009, with deadline on 24 February 2013. Rs 22.11 crore (3.15 per cent) has been spent so far. Alignment investigation for canal and tunnel is under process. Land requisition is a bottleneck. According to the State government, the men and machinery required for lining is insufficient. Hence the lining work is very slow. Plus Madhucon has failed to submit 17 design reports of the structures to be taken up.

TDP MP CM Ramesh, a confidante of Chandrababu Naidu, was the founder chairman of Rithwik Projects Pvt Ltd, now managed by his son C M Rajesh. He got three projects worth Rs 4200 crore in Telangana region:

• L Distributory J Chokka Rao Devadula Lift Irrigation Scheme: worth Rs 61.61 crore awarded to Rithwik Projects and UNAMAX Infra on 18 August 2010. Deadline was 2 years. 45 per cent of the project money (Rs 27.80 crore is spent. Work is in progress.

• Rs 2536.32 crore worth Package 7 – Dummugudem- NSP Tail Pond Link Canal on NH-9 to carry 39000 cusecs of water. Work is in progress • Rs 1706 crore worth Package-6 – Dummugudem – Nagarjuna Sagar Tail pond Link Canal. Work is in progress.

What will happen when a state of Telangana is formed and a new government takes charge? While the fate of already awarded projects remains to be seen, it is widely expected that the people of Telangana, nursing years of anger at the dominance of Seemandhra in jobs and other government sectors, will want to root out Seemandhra politicians’ business interests from the Telangana region. And therein lies the root of the ongoing turmoil.

Courtesy: First Post

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