By: J R Janumpalli
The govt. of A.P. calls Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act-2014, as unscientific and irrational. They made, the Governor, in his address to joint session of A.P. Assembly and Council, to say, the same. They harp on the allegation everywhere and badger the center for additional sops and impossible handouts in the name of it. This attitude without addressing the basics of reorganization is making the life difficult for the people of both the states. There is no rationale behind this irrational refrain.
It is not for the first time a state is divided in independent India. Comprehensive reorganization norms are firmly in place. It was Andhra state which was the ancestor of this Act. What is good for the gander can be good for the goose. Actually several unusual provisions, partisan to Andhra, are shoved in to the Act. because of the last minute politicking of two national parties.
1. A 10 year common capital.
2. An undemocratic ‘Governorgiri’ on TS.
3. A Polavaram Project, which cannot see the light in the regular laws of the land, including annexation of Bhadrachalam division as an inappropriate amendment to the Act.
4. A cumbersome special inter-state river water boards.
5. Assistance to recommend a suitable place and necessary funds to construct a capital city.
6. Promises of several unsustainable sops like SCS etc. On the floor of the Parliament
Such things were not considered necessary in earlier divisions. Some of them can be invalid in terms of Article 3. If they can be scientific, it is surprising how the regular provisions which were tacitly adapted and stood the test of time in earlier divisions can become unscientific here. Not having the capital and inheriting a big financial budget deficit are two important complaints of unscientific bifurcation theory of Andhras.
Take the case of capital, Andhras did not have a capital in 1953. Many new states did not inherit capitals of their own either. The grant of financial assistance for building capital was also not a norm. There was some financial assistance for capitals for the states created in 2000. This was also not an outright grant. Where as in case of A.P., there was a committee of experts to recommend the capital. Presently, about Rs. 3000 cr is earmarked for capital assistance by the Center as grant. It is likely that they will garner some more in the coming years. But, A.P. govt. did not consider Sivramakrishnan’s report apropos and stymied it even before the ink on it dried up. Then they went hankering after Singapore, Japan etc. for a world class capital at Vijayawada. And estimated Rs.one lakh cr. for capital construction and demanded all of it from the Center. They are now obsessed with that fantasy without regard to its feasibility. How scientific or rational that idea and efforts there on are left to its veracity in to the future.
Now coming to all important, ‘deficit budget’ issue. This deficit budget in new states is a common occurrence. And the Center as a tacit duty, was adjusting the deficit to neutralize it in the first one or two years. Here in case of residual A.P. the deficit is very high. It is not because of any unscientific bifurcation. It is because of continuous spending of surplus Telangana revenue in Andhra region. The 14th Finance Commission headed by Sri Y V Reddy has clearly brought out this and has provided for adjustment of Rs.22, 112 cr over 5 years from 2015-16 to 2019-20, neutralizing the deficit every year along with the devolution of funds from the Center. In addition, Rs.500 cr is provided towards non-plan revenue deficit also. By far it is the biggest adjustment of deficit by the center for a new state. Yet, A.P. govt. is not happy. It wants the whole deficit at one go in the beginning it self and demand several other economic sops. It is clearly an irrational and unscientific demand.
There are the promises made by the PM Manmohan Singh in Parliament under duress such as special category status, special development package for backward areas, industrial incentives etc. A.P. demands these in addition to bridging deficit budget gap for an allegedly level playing field with TS. Their earlier argument of holding light to Telangana economy proved to be wrong. Actually it was other way round. When bifurcation took place, inevitably, it was caught plumb before FC and the state was left high and dry with deficit budget. In view of that, the claim of un-level-playing field with TS is a complete travesty of truth.Ironically it means to say, that A.P. needs to be rewarded for its inappropriate appropriation of Telangana revenue in all the 58 years, in addition to bearing the huge deficit.
There are many more states already in the queue for SCS. A.P. is not eligible for SCS as per the norms in vogue. It can be a un-level-playing field for the neighboring states including TS if SCS and other industrial development incentives are given to A.P., which can start the migration of industries from these states. In such circumstances it cannot be called scientific to sanction SCS to A.P. As for the package for backward areas, 8 districts in TS and 3 districts in A.P. were recognized as backward by Rural Development Department of India. But now, unilaterally Rs.350 cr package is sanctioned to 7 districts in A.P.only. As per the Act such assistance should be given to both the resultant states wherever it is required. If A.P. is accorded SCS by any reason the facility should be automatically extended to TS to create the so called level-playing field. But, unfortunately it has become a one sided affair because of that surplus revenue which is the result of availability of its full revenue for Telangana for the first time in 58 years of united state. Because of it, A.P. is trying to call itself as underdog unabashedly and demanding more sops. The Center is trying to acquiesce on the propaganda and trying to help A.P. at the cost of TS.
There are several such incongruities in the implementation of the A.P.R.A. For example, the institutions in x schedule are to be got divided between the two states within a year. Till that time the state in which they are located will have the primacy to own and run those institutions. A.P. is deliberately avoiding the division of these institutions and creating unseemly controversies in running these institutions. The employees division, shifting the secretariat and Andhra employees from Hyderabad to A.P. are some of the other issues.
The 10 year common capital itself is a big unscientific stratagem in the A.P.R.A. Such provision was never there in earlier divisions. Only in case of Andhra, Madras was considered as common capital for 2-3 years by Wanchoo committee and was shelved quickly as it was felt impracticable. Even if it is needed now it could have been enough to have a 2 year period common accommodation. Now we all know how this 10 year period common capital is causing the problems for both the states because of recalcitrance of A.P. The govt is indulging in building a capital in the air and encouraging the secretariat and the employees to stay put in Hyderabad, affecting their own governance and administration. The power distribution, which was devised scientifically in the Act was rendered unscientific by the refusal of A.P. to honor it. The sharing of water is another bone of contention, which is creating more problems.Infact when the new projects or the deliberately kept long pending projects in Telangana come on to the anvil the real difficulties of new interstate river boards will be unveiled.
TS is busy in grappling with the running of the new state and appears to be making some good progress. Thanks to the availability of its own full revenue to itself. A.P. on the other hand is running in to rough weather creating unnecessary complications with TS with its obstinacy of not reconciling with the the stark reality of the bifurcation. The complexities it has built up in the 4 years from December 2009 to June 2nd 2014 and the inappropriate subterfuges in the final hour of the passing of the Reorganization Bill are haunting both the states. Some of them are acting against A.P. like ‘Bhasmasura hasta’ as the saying goes. Its profligate spending despite heavy budget deficit is aggravating the situation.
The incongruity of its SCS campaign with the slogans of unscientific, irrational and un-level-playing field bifurcation on one hand and the bizarre obsession with world class capital and number one state on the other is causing bafflement. The A.P.govt instead of getting down to the brass-tacks of constructing the residual state, is indulging in building the castles in the air. Unable to make any headway in that fantasy,it is trying to find a scape goat in TS surplus revenue inventing meaninglessslogans. In their parlance ‘scientific bifurcation’ means getting everything they want.
Source: The Hans India