‘Implement Polavaram, Pranahita-Chevella, Kanthanapalli and Dummagudem as national projects’
Dharmana explains how Jalayagnam will benefit country, at Delhi meet
Seeks extension of the fiscal stimulus package for the State
HYDERABAD: Andhra Pradesh has made a strong plea to the Union Government to enhance the Centre’s share of the cost of the Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) from 25 to 50 per cent and implement Polavaram, Pranahita-Chevella, Kanthanapalli and Dummagudem as national projects.
This plea was made by Revenue Minister Dharmana Prasada Rao at the conference of Finance Ministers of States in New Delhi on Wednesday. The meeting was convened by the Union Finance Minister to know the requirements of States before formulating the Central budget.
Mr Rao highlighted the relevance of Jalayagnam programme taken up in Andhra Pradesh to simultaneously construct 84 irrigation projects with Rs 1.5 lakh-crore outlay, saying these projects, once completed, would be a boon to the entire country as they would increase foodgrain production and ensure food security in other States too. As the State was faced with a cash crunch, the Centre must help in implementing Jalayagnam by changing the present Centre-State cost-bearing ratio under AIBP to 50:50 from 25:75.
Similarly, the Centre should treat the four mega projects, including Polavaram, as national projects and accordingly bear 90 per cent of their cost. Pranahita-Chevella, Kanthanapalli and Dummagudem would bring about a sea change in the backward region of Telangana.
Mr Rao joined his counterparts from Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Orissa and Bihar to seek extension of its fiscal stimulus package till the States achieved 9 per cent growth rate, on the ground that they still required help to neutralise the economic slowdown. He particularly spoke about the permission given to States to raise market borrowing up to 4 per cent of the GSDP under the package.
Like others, he demanded enhancement of the share due to States from the divisional pool to 50 per cent from 29.5 per cent as now, citing the increased responsibilities towards the welfare of people.
Mr Rao sought a separate package to encourage industries in hilly areas with the offer of Central excise and income tax exemptions as this would also end concentration of industries at one place.
Through another State-specific request, the Minister wanted Arogyasri and Pavala Vaddi schemes extending health insurance and low-interest loans to the poor, respectively, to be fully Centre-sponsored.
Mr Rao pleaded for immediate acceptance of the new definition of poverty given by the Tendulkar Committee which took health status, housing, education, etc into reckoning, apart from calories of food consumed, to decide whether a person was below poverty line and extension of benefits under schemes.