Union Minister Jairam Ramesh’s first visit to the State after the passage of the AP State Reorganisation Bill-2014 was marked by a series of demonstrations here on Wednesday.
YSR Congress cadres led by former TUDA chairman Chevireddy Bhaskar Reddy, blocked all the roads leading from the airport to the city, which prompted the Minister’s convoy to retrace the path back to the airport. Protesters, who reached the airport to prevent Mr. Ramesh from entering the city, were whisked away from the venue. To prevent any untoward incidents, Tirupati Urban Superintendent of Police S.V. Rajasekhar Babu escorted Mr. Ramesh with a heightened security cover to Sri Venkateswara Medical College.
Holding ‘Go Back, Jairam Ramesh’ banners and raising slogans, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) cadres too staged a demonstration at S.V. Medical College but were taken into custody by the police.
Mr. Ramesh maintained that the Congress did not rush into the decision to bifurcate the State, but had approved it only after holding a series of extensive consultations. “We had to properly address the long standing demand for Telangana and we ensured the process was fully constitutional,” he added.
Explaining the ‘special development package’ announced by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Mr. Ramesh said that four districts of Rayalaseema (Anantapur, Chittoor, Kadapa, Kurnool) and three districts of north coastal Andhra (Srikakulam, Visakhapatnam, Vijayanagaram) would come under the project. The Planning Commission is all set to release a notification regarding the concessions being provided to Seemandhra region in a couple of days.
He further clarified some of the legal issues pertaining to the bifurcation and elucidated details of commitments made to Seemandhra region regarding agriculture, irrigation, education, water sharing and other such activities. “The Bill has legal provisions to address the interests of Seemandhra people. Irrigation projects, developmental activities will go on,” he maintained.
Mr. Ramesh also said that Seemandhra would receive a benefit of more than Rs.50,000 crore, with the conferral of ‘Special Category’ status on the region, which he said was due to the emphasis laid by the Congress party. He also said that an expert committee would be constituted to identify a capital for Seemandhra after the President’s approval for a separate State.