Chief Minister Rosaiah presents his vision for Andhra Pradesh; promises "full justice" to three regions — Telangana, Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra
The benefits of growth should be equitably distributed among all sections of society. This was a major theme of the development vision Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister K. Rosaiah presented to an editorial conference of The Hindu at its head office in Chennai on Saturday. He was in the city to attend the inauguration of the new Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly-Complex by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Mr. Rosaiah said his government had “two eyes” — long-term development and the welfare of the people. They had to go hand in hand. The State had instituted development projects and welfare measures to ensure inclusive growth. In tune with the Eleventh Five Year Plan idea, Andhra Pradesh was laying great stress on health and education.
In the field of higher education, he recalled, Chief Minister Y.S.Rajasekhara Reddy had announced the starting of 18 universities, six medical colleges, and three Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IIIT) in a short period. The IIITs — there was one for each of the three regions, Rayalaseema, Telangana, and Coastal Andhra — would cost Rs. 1,200 crore each. Nearly 2,000 boys and girls would be admitted from rural areas with the top five students from each mandal given admission on merit.
In the health sector, the Chief Minister observed, the Rajiv Arogyasri programme was very popular, with the result that every State had taken up a similar health insurance scheme. About Rs. 925 crore was being spent each year to provide free medical assistance up to Rs. 2 lakh to people from poorer sections. Under the “108” scheme, callers from any interior village in the State could get ambulance service within 20 minutes. Under the “104” service, “mini hospitals on wheels” would tour each village once a month with qualified doctors, staff nurses, and lab technicians to conduct preliminary tests and advise further treatment to villagers.
An ambitious scheme of constructing 86 small and large irrigation projects had been taken up in the primarily agrarian State to bring 98.25 lakh new acres into cultivation apart from standardising 22 lakh acres in the Krishna-Godavari deltas. The government had also doubled its lending to agriculturists with Rs. 16,000 crore disbursed as term loans this year. Self-help groups were given loans at a low rate of interest to perform their activities.
Chief Minister Rosaiah emphasised that the State had a strong social security net and had the maximum dovetailing of Central funds under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme (NREGP). Around 71.4 lakh pensions were being disbursed along with monthly support for the elderly, widows, and physically handicapped persons. Nearly 65 lakh houses would be constructed by the State government and post-matric scholarships to 25 lakh students worth Rs. 3,000 crore, including a new scheme for economically backward communities (EBC) had been introduced. To ensure transparency, the government had instituted a social audit of the NREGP after complaints were brought to its notice over the past year. Complete field verification was being taken up. Transparency was ensured by involving the village committees in the process.
Replying to a question, the 76-year-old Chief Minister who has won a good deal of respect for handling the agitation for a separate Telangana with deliberation, poise, and equanimity, emphasised that the government always tried to maintain equitability across regions in its budgetary provisions for development. He offered the assurance that “our intention is not to neglect any region, whether it is Telangana or Rayalaseema or Coastal Andhra, but to do full justice to all three regions, to satisfy the people of the three regions to the extent one can help.”
Appeal on Telangana
On the agitation for a separate Telangana, the political veteran who has, at one time or another, held virtually every ministerial portfolio in south India's largest State, appealed to the people to represent their views in a democratic manner and peaceful atmosphere to the Srikrishna committee, which had been formed to look into the matter, and abide by the final decision of the Government of India. “If we go on agitating for separation or against separation,” he concluded, “we will be wasting our energy, time and money and development will be hampered. So let us leave it to the wisdom and the vision of the Government of India and work for the betterment of society.”