CAPTION: CM with Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan in New Delhi
New Delhi, June 11:
Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy has concluded his two- day Delhi trip during which he discussed wide ranging issues of State interest with several Ministers.
The Chief Minister met Union Home Minister Amit Shah last night and held discussions on decentralised development and Special Category Status (SCS) among other issues. He had asked for sanction of 13 Medical Colleges and financial assistance to them and further requested to release pending dues of Rs. 4,652.70 Crores and Enhancement of Annual Person Days for Work per Family from 100 to 150 days by Ministry of Rural Development along with arrears of Rs.529.95 Crores towards Rural Local Body Grants related to 14th Finance Commission and Rs.497 Crores for financial year 2020-21 related to 15th finance commission.
The Chief Minister also requested to give assent to Andhra Pradesh DISHA Bills and Andhra Pradesh Land Titling Authority Bill 2020. He appealed to the Minister to establish the Central Tribal University within the tribal sub plan area.
During the discussions held with Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat regarding Polavaram project, the Chief Minister reiterated the necessity to complete the project on time and sought approval to investment clearance for Rs 55656.87 crore as recommended by PPA & Central Water Commission and accepted by Technical Advisory Committee. He asked to reimburse the amount regarding the land acquisition and R&R compensation for project affected families of the project as per the Right to Fair Compensation & Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation & Resettlement Act, 2013, further reiterating on the shifting of headquarters of PPA from Hyderabad to Rajamahendravaram.
The Chief Minister also called on Niti Aayog Vice Chairman Dr Rajiv Kumar at Niti Aayog office and him to discuss with the concerned ministries and make the cost for development of infrastructure in the newly formed colonies as a part of assistance given to the state governments under the PMAY programme.
He met Dharmendra Pradhan, Minister of Steels on Friday and reiterated the appeal not to privatise Visakhapatnam Steel Plant and requested to consider the alternatives suggested by the State in reviving the Plant and also to allot the captive mine in Odisha which will help in reviving VSP and suggested other possibilities in restructuring the finances of VSP. The Chief Minister said the works regarding setting up petro chemical complex in Kakinada SEZ should be expedited and also to cut down the VGF since the State could not bear such a burden in the present circumstances.
Later, the Chief Minister met the Union Minister for Railways, Consumer Affairs and Public Distribution and said an amount of Rs 3,299 crore related to Subsidy for PDS Rice has to be released by the Ministryfor the state of Andhra Pradesh. Also, the Chief Minister said that the poor are suffering severely due to unreasonable restrictions under the National Food Security Act, where the burden is being carried by the State government in providing ration supplies and appealed that it be rectified at the earliest possible.
CM meets Dharmendra Pradhan
Mr Jagan Mohan Reddy has met Union Minister for Petroleum, Natural Gas and Steel Dharmendra Pradhan on the second day of his two day Delhi visit and held discussions for over an hour regarding Kakinada Petro Complex and Visakhapatnam Steel Plant ( VSP ).
The Chief Minister reiterated his appeal to Dharmendra Pradhan to stop privatization of the VSP and requested to consider the alternatives suggested by the State in reviving the Plant. He said that 32 people have laid down their lives to set up the plant in Visakhapatnam, where nearly 20,000 people are employed and thousands more are having indirect employment.
Further, the Chief Minister explained that VSP performed well and made profits between 2002-2015. The plant has gone through an expansion by taking loans, but due to the slump in international market during 2014-15, the organisation fall into debts with the increasing operational costs and lack of own mines. In fact, VSP has achieved the highest ever capacity utilization of 6.3 MTPA against the installed capacity of 7.3 MTPA and started making a monthly profit of close to Rs 200 crores and continuing this performance for a further period of two years will result in improving the financial situation. The Plant has 19700 acres of land which is worth in crores and can be monetised to clear the crisis.
Currently, RINL is purchasing iron ore from NMDC Bailadila mines at a market price of around Rs 5,260 per MT of steel. Many of its competitors have captive mines for over 60 percent of their requirement and buy only the rest from NMDC. Even SAIL has own captive mines with reserves of iron ore sufficient for 200 years. This excess cost of iron ore has cost implications of more than Rs 3,472 crores for the plant and it is essential to have an allotment of captive mines in order to overcome the cost disadvantage. The Chief Minister requested to allot the captive mine in Odisha which will help in reviving VSP.
Besides these, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy suggested other possibilities in restructuring the finances of VSP, where all the short term and long term loans could be converted into equity easing the burden. The Plant has a debt of Rs 22,000 crore which is being serviced at interest rates as high as 14 percent. Conversion of these loans into equity and listing the entity on the stock exchange, would remove the interest burden totally, where the banks would also encash through the stock exchange. He said that the Plant has supplied over 7,000 MT of oxygen during the second wave of Covid-19, saving lives of people in hard times and further assured that the state is ready to work with the relevant central departments to protect this company.
Discussing the Kakinada Petro Complex, the Chief Minister stated that it was promised and listed in AP Reorganization Act that a petro complex will be set up at Kakinada SEZ. He said that DPRs have been prepared for the project by HPCL – GAIL companies together with a capacity of 1 million metric tons and cost of Rs 32,900 crore. As the Centre has asked for Rs 975 crore per annum under Viability Gap Funding for 15 years, the Chief Minister requested to cut down the VGF since the State could not bear such a burden in the present circumstances. Asserting that the central government has reduced the corporate tax by 25 percent and overall rate of interest across the world had also been reduced, the Chief Minister said that the project can be made possible without any VGF. He said that members have already been nominated for the Working Group on behalf of the state government to discuss the project modalities and asked the Centre to issue immediate directions to start the project.
Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has said that a petro complex will definitely be set up in Andhra Pradesh and is also positive about the Viability Gap Fund. He told the Chief Minister that a meeting will be scheduled next week with the Chief Secretary and the officials of Petroleum Department to finalise the procedures.
CM meets Piyush Goyal
During his two-day visit to Delhi, Mr Jagan Mohan Reddy had a meeting with Union Railway and Civil Supplies Minister Piyush Goyal and appealed to release the pending arrears of Rs 3,229 crore for AP Civil Supplies Corporation, as they would come in handy for paying farmers towards Rabi crop procurement.
During discussion, the Chief Minister said that free rice distribution will be carried out for another two months due to Covid-19 and stated that effective measures are being taken by the government to overcome the pandemic crisis. He said that under the National Food Security Act, till December 2015, nearly 1.29 crore ration card holders in State were provided with 1,85,640 MT of rice every month, but after December 2015, considering 2011 census, the distribution has been limited to only 60.96 percent households in rural areas and 41.14 percent households in urban areas, where only 0.91 crore ration card holders are receiving the ration and the allocation was reduced to 1,54,148 MT. He said this was a serious injustice to the state, as neighbouring states like Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat are receiving more supplies.
The Chief Minister pointed out that the allocation basis for ration rice was decided before the State bifurcation, where all the allocations in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh are being carried out on the same basis without any reality check. He reminded the Supreme Court verdict stating that the state government was responsible for identifying those eligible for ration cards and in this regard, the government had surveyed and identified 1.47 crore ration card holders.
Further, he said that the poor are suffering severely due to unreasonable restrictions under the National Food Security Act, where the burden is being carried by the State government and appealed that it be rectified at the earliest possible. He said that the government is procuring paddy for 2020-21 rabi season, providing remunerative prices to farmers and ensuring timely payments.