Special Correspondent

YSR asks Ponnala to clear the air on project estimates

Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh Cabinet on Saturday decided to launch a spirited fight against the Opposition in the Assembly to counter allegations of cost escalation in the estimates of the Sripadasagar Project in Karimnagar.

The meeting devoted an hour's time to the issue with Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy asking Minister for Major Irrigation P. Lakshmaiah, to clarify the department's stand.

Senior Ministers D. Srinivas and K. Jana Reddy too pressed for greater clarity on the subject as the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) has decided to place the relevant information in the Assembly in three days.

Defending the Government's stand with relevant data, Mr. Lakshmaiah is said to have ruled out irregularities in the project. He explained that the Telugu Desam was trying to "mislead" people as well the Opposition and the Assembly on the issue. A similar ``defamation campaign" was undertaken by the Telugu Desam on Krishna waters issue too he explained.

No new undertaking was given by the Government in the issue to the tribunal in New Delhi with the case and status quo was being maintained as per the Bachawat Award.

Finer details sought

A couple of his colleagues quizzed him further on finer details and expressed satisfaction in the end leading to the Chief Minister asking them to come prepared for the backlash in the Assembly.

There was no need to hide anything and the Government was prepared to place the information in the House regarding the project as sought by the Opposition, he said.

Earlier, Government Chief Whip N. Kiran Kumar Reddy told the media that the Government would answer all queries of the Opposition as sought by Speaker K.R. Suresh Reddy in three days.

The CLP would like a debate on it, he said. Though a meeting of floor leaders on Friday agreed to give two weeks time for the same, three days would suffice, he said.

Criticising the Opposition for stalling the business of the House for two days over the issue, he said there was no truth in their claims.

The Telugu Desam Legislature Party was in the habit of stalling proceedings without specific demands, he said adding that it behaved in a similar fashion in the Visakhapatnam by-poll issue too refusing to debate.