Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy on Monday hinted that the executive capital would be shifted to Visakhapatnam within three to four months.
In an informal chat with a select group of mediapersons, including Deccan Chronicle principal correspondent G. Sampat Samaritan, Chief Minister Reddy justified the decentralisation of administration, saying decentralisation would lead to greater development.
In a freewheeling chat on a plethora of issues for the first time after he took over as Chief Minister, Mr Reddy shared his views on a plethora of subjects. Excerpts.
When is the executive capital moving to Visakhapatnam? How prudent is idea of shifting the capital?
The setting up of an executive capital in Visakhapatnam would be done in another three to four months. The tier II city of Visakhapatnam would quickly to become a tier I city, after which, it can compete with Hyderabad. It is a well thought of decision to ensure equal growth of all regions.
What would be the fate of Amar-avati after this shifting? Farmers who gave away their lands for an integrated capital there are in arms against the move?
We will retain Amaravati as the legislative capital. All Assembly sessions would be held here, so it will witness a natural economic growth in due course of time. No injustice would be done to farmers as we have enhanced the annuity payment to 15 years and farm labourers are being paid Rs 5,000 per month against present Rs 2,000.
Visakhapatnam, the opposition says, is prone to cyclones?
All nine coastal districts, including Guntur and Krishna where the capital city Amaravati was proposed to be developed, are vulnerable to natural calamities, like cyclonic storms. We had witnessed one in Diviseema in Krishna district and the Hudhud in Visakhapatnam – no district is completely immune.
As per the TD government’s own estimates, it would cost more than Rs 1 lakh crore to develop Amaravati. With only around 10 per cent of that amount, we can develop Visakhapatnam into a ready capital for our state. We are already paying an annual interest of Rs 500 crore on funds spent on Amaravati so far. Besides, it is the prerogative of the CM and government to locate the capital, keeping administrative convenience in mind. Let us also not forget that BJP had also promised to locate the High Court in Kurnool in its manifesto.
You seem to be on a path of ‘creative destruction’ as can be seen from the way you have initiated steps to revolutionise education by making English the mandatory medium of instruction in primary education, and opting for reverse tendering of several projects initiated by the previous TD regime, the “navaratnalu” welfare measures, or the drastic measures to reduce alcohol consumption?
The CM is like a father figure to the state and the people. Failing to develop a state even after having authority to do so is a sin. A CM’s vision can make or break a state. I have visualised the future of our young generation for the next 20 years. If our children have to pursue higher studies and find more employment opportunities globally, they need to be thorough with English. We all know that only poor families send their children to government schools and we are determined to teach them English at zero cost.Rs
Similarly, health is of paramount importance to our government. We will increase teaching hospitals from the present 11 to 27 in the next five years. We will supply 510 varieties of medicines having WHO and good manufacturing practice standards to all government hospitals by end of April. Our government will fill all vacant posts in hospitals to provide better healthcare to people. We have already demonstrated that we can save thousands of crores of rupees by opting for reverse tendering of contracts awarded by the previous TD regime, which were marred by corruption. In Polavaram alone, we saved Rs 830 crore.
The opposition says the government is delaying Polavaram in the guise of reverse tendering.
The Polavaram project got stalled because the previous TD regime mishandled its execution. Without constructing a spillway, they rushed to build a coffer dam, which resulted in the rise of water levels leading to inundation of more villages. Our government has issued orders to take up construction of spillway immediately and works are going on in full swing. We are going to complete the Polavaram irrigation project by June, 2021. There may be some delay in the execution of Polavaram power project, maybe by a year or so. Relief and resettlement is estimated to cost us around Rs 33,000 crore but we will implement it as per statute.
How confident are you of implementing your flagship welfare programme of Navaratnalu (nine gems) given the precarious financial position of the state?
You have all been witnessing how committed we are to implementing our poll promises. Some schemes were launched well ahead of schedule of promise made in the manifesto. They will generate economic activity. It is true our financial resources are not good but they are expected to improve, year on year. We will be able to implement all welfare schemes.
The Special Category Status (SCS) would have been of great help to the state. The BJP has time and again said that it is a closed chapter. What is your stand?
Getting SCS to a state can never be a closed chapter. We have been insisting on getting the status persistently. Whenever we meet the Prime Minister, we are raising this issue. Perhaps, I believe that when Centre requires support of MPs from AP in the Parliament on some issues, then we will put more pressure on the centre and use every chance to get such status. We are confident that in due course of time AP will get SCS....