No role in choice of Andhra Pradesh’s capital city, Centre tells HC
In an affidavit submitted to the court, Home Ministry makes its stand clear on SCS and Polavaram project too
Lending credence to the BJP’s argument that the Central government had nothing to do with the State’s policy decision on the capital city, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) filed a counter-affidavit to that effect in the High Court on Thursday.
A senior official of the MoHA stated in the affidavit that under Section 6 of the A.P. Reorganisation Act, 2014, the Central government had constituted an expert committee on March 28, 2014, under the chairmanship of retired IAS officer K.C. Sivaramakrishnan to study alternatives for a new capital of the State. It said that the committee had submitted its report on August 30, 2014, and it was sent to the State government on September 1, 2014. Subsequently, the State government had notified Amaravati as the Capital city through a G.O. on April 23, 2015.
“It may further be mentioned that the Capital city of a State is decided by the respective State government. The Central government has no role in it,” the MoHA official informed the court.
The Central government’s affidavit was in response to a writ petition filed by Poluri Srinivasa Rao of Prakasam district on March 29, 2018, under Article 226 of the Constitution.
The prayer was for declaring the non-implementation of Sections 6, 90, 92, 93 and 94 of the Act and the denial of Special Category Status to A.P. as illegal, arbitrary and unconstitutional. In its affidavit, the Centre said that the 14th Finance Commission did not make a distinction between special and general category States, and its approach had been to fill the resource gap of each State through tax devolution and give revenue deficit grant for certain States if such devolution could not cover the assessed gap.
The Finance Commission had then recommended a total award of ₹22,113 crore to the State for a five-year period, of which a sum of ₹22,111.88 crore had been provided during 2015-20. Besides, an amount of ₹3,979.50 crore was released to bridge the resource gap between June 2, 2014 and March 31, 2015.
As regards the Polavaram project, the affidavit stated that a Central assistance of ₹8,614 crore had been released since April 1, 2014, and the project’s revised cost estimate of approximately ₹55,549 crore at 2017-18 price level was approved on February 11, 2019.
For further release of funds, the Ministry of Finance had sought a clarification on the audited statement of expenditure and revised cost estimate at 2013-14 prices, the affidavit said.