Asserting that the TRS’ welfare programmes had endeared the party to the poorer sections of the society, Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao said he was getting returns in the form of votes.
In a free-wheeling interview on Wednesday, Mr. Rao said his government was 100 per cent pro-poor and the “welfare bouquet” was far ahead of the Government of India.
Excerpts from the interview:
What’s the most satisfying programme for you in the last two years?
We are 100 per cent welfare-oriented and a major chunk of poor communities are with us for the good work we have done for them. Fortunately or unfortunately, poor have been neglected by the successive governments. We realised that and came out with a welfare bouquet. I feel I am getting returns in the form of votes for my party.
I happen to meet the Prime Minister on the issue relating to drought where the Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh was also present.
The Minister started reeling out statistics about the money given to Telangana for drinking water. I told the Minister that only Rs. 74 crore has been released for drinking water while the TRS government was spending Rs. 350 crore on the same. Then I told the Prime Minister and the Union Minister that we are much ahead of Government of India in terms of welfare measures.
Our welfare budget is Rs. 36,000 crore. I only made a request to provide Rs. 1,000 crore for farm input subsidy and Rs. 700 crore for permanently eradicating drought. Mission Kakatiya is the lasting programme and I have been consistently requesting the Centre to declare one national project for Telangana. I mentioned that Telangana was the only State which was giving 30 per cent risk allowance for traffic police.
We are continuing the ICDS programme, for which funding has been stopped by the Centre.
Similarly, model schools have been running as the programme is good.
Not many infrastructure companies are coming forward to take up construction of two bedroom housing planned by you?
The fact is that I called a meeting of builders. As we are giving lucrative business to the infrastructure companies for Irrigation, Roads and Buildings and Panchayat Raj works, they are not coming forward to take up the housing scheme as there is little margin.
If a good builder constructs for the housing scheme, he can get a margin of Rs. 35,000 to Rs. 50,000 on each house. But, the margins are more in other projects.
As our MLAs came forward and suggested that the housing scheme can be taken up by small-time contractors or local masons, we decided to relax norms. Accordingly, we have asked the District Collectors to issue site-wise tenders. The design and cost will be same, but we are assured that the houses would be constructed.
What about corruption in the Indiramma housing scheme and the inquiry ordered to unearth large-scale irregularities?
To be frank with you, it was mindless and meaningless corruption. It is surprising that in Manthani constituency, 140 houses were shown as constructed. At Varikolu village in Parkal constituency, not one out of 600 houses sanctioned under the scheme was constructed. Similarly, at Ippaguda in Warangal district, not even one house out of 740 sanctioned was grounded.
The issue is that some people have pocketed the money and some innocents are being named. How can we send poor people to jail? The previous government had arrested as many as 246 officers, of which 70-80 went to jail. At one stage, if we start arresting people, as many as 5,000 to 20,000 people will be in jail in each district. It’s a very critical issue for the government. The actual culprits are freely roaming while the innocents are caught in the scam.
What is the fate of Information Technology Investment Region that was sanctioned to Hyderabad?
The UPA government declared ITIR for Hyderabad with the aim of providing basic infrastructure for the expansion of IT industry. The idea was that the Centre would give some money and the State government would supplement the same from its own resources. The prospective investors would expect to buy the facilities at subsidised price. I have repeatedly told the Prime Minister that a time would come when you would be blamed in Telangana if you don’t give money because it was a commitment by the Centre.
There is a feeling that you have distanced the Telangana Joint Action Committee and other groups that struggled for separate Telangana?
The TRS was running an agitation for Telangana State before it was formed. The fruit has come. Now, TRS is running the State. One should have common sense to understand things. The criticism hardly matters.
What is the criteria for formation of new districts?
They will not happen at the whims and fancies of any individual. The reach of people to the seat of administration and ensuring smooth administrative convenience will be considered in the process. It will be undertaken along with the reorganisation of mandals and revenue divisions. The new districts will come into existence this year.
Will there be more zones?
The question now is whether Telangana requires zones at all (there are two zones in the State now). The employees want the zones to go and that they should be treated either as district or State cadre. We will do that.
Will you perform another ‘Chandi yagam’?
After accomplishment of ‘Chandi yagam’, the next stages are ‘Niyutha Chandi Yagam’ and ‘Prayutha Chandi Yagam’. I will do both with the blessings of the God.