Andhra Pradesh for a major policy shift in sand supply

Cabinet decides to entrust excavation, storage and supply to any central agency on nomination basis

Vijayawada: The Andhra Pradesh Cabinet on Thursday took two important decisions on sand supply and Machilipatnam port which eventually encourages private participation.

The Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy government launched a new sand policy last year, which it claimed had freed sand reaches from the clutches of Telugu Desam leaders. The government promised to make sand available at the doorsteps of consumer without any hassle and at a cheaper price.

The state Cabinet, however, decided to withdraw from the sand supply as part of upgrading the existing policy.

According to an official note on Cabinet decisions, the government will entrust the excavation, storage and supply to any Central agency on nomination basis. It will invite private agencies through transparent bidding process to do the same, if the Central agencies do not evince any interest.

“We are also clueless about inviting Central agencies because the AP Mineral Development Corporation itself is a State Level Public Enterprise,” said a senior official. The ruling party leaders are also worried about Opposition taking advantage of the government’s major deviation – leaving customers in lurch by asking them to arrange vehicle on their own to carry sand to their doorstep. “It is again leaving the trade to middlemen and transporters,” said a ruling party leader.

The government also decided to develop Machilipatnam port in “Land Lord” model in which it would bear the entire cost of construction, `5,000 cr in the first phase in this case, and privatise operations. The government, which is committed to building the port, did not opt for Public Private Partnership model, wherein the concessionaire will have to mobilise finances, construct the port and operate it.

Meanwhile, the AP government will conduct a comprehensive land survey after a gap of 100 years in the state from January 1. The AP Cabinet meeting headed by Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy held on Thursday approved the land survey decision.

Addressing a press meet after the Cabinet meeting, minister for agriculture Kurasala Kanna Babu said that the Cabinet approved the YSR Jagananna Saswatha Bhoomi Hakku-Bhoomi Rakshana’, a comprehensive land survey, which would start from January 1. He said the survey will provide permanent land ownership, with every inch of land in the state being resurveyed using the latest technology like drones, with 4,500 survey teams and 15,000 surveyors at an estimated cost of about Rs 1,000 crore. He said that the state would mark the boundaries, issue passbooks to landowners, and further set up a mobile court to resolve land disputes on the spot. He stated that such a survey was overdue and will be held in the state after a gap of over 100 years.

Minister Kanna Babu said that the Cabinet also approved the construction of Integrated Data Centre, Integrated IT and Business Park, recreation centre and Skill Development University in Visakhapatnam at a cost of Rs 14,630 crore and the project will be taken up by Adani Group.

He stated that Opposition Telugu Desam leaders were spreading false news that the Adani Group had left the project. He stated further that in fact the Chief Minister and state government had sanctioned the projects and signed an MoU by allocating 150 acres to create employment for 25,000 people. He recalled that for the same project, the previous TD government had given 500 acres of land and agreed for 6,000 jobs.

Minister Kanna Babu said that the Cabinet also approved land allocation to 16 new medical colleges in various districts. He mentioned that land was allotted to the Andhra Cricket Association on a 33-year lease to set up cricket stadiums in Srikakulam and Kadapa districts. He said that the ban on gambling, online-offline betting, use and sale of drugs and narcotics across the state would be brought under the jurisdiction of the State Enforcement Bureau (SEB). The minister added that the smuggling of red sanders was assigned to SEB along with the Task Force.

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