Centre trying to stunt Telangana’s growth with constant hurdles: Harish Rao

Even while Telangana has been achieving significant development, the Centre has been creating hurdles after hurdles, claimed Telangana Finance Minister T Harisha Rao

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HYDERABAD: Even while Telangana has been achieving significant development through its own efforts, the Centre has been creating hurdles after hurdles, claimed Telangana Finance Minister T Harisha Rao.

Delivering his speech while presenting the Telangana Annual Budget for 2023-24 in the State Assembly on Monday, he gave a detailed account of the raw deal given by the Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre to the state across sectors.

Harisha Rao said that In order to complete the irrigation projects within the shortest time, Telangana government resorted to off-budget borrowings well within the limits of FRBM Act. “During the current year, based on our economic performance and borrowing limits, an amount of Rs.53,970 crore has been included in the Budget as borrowings. This was approved by this August House. But the Central government unilaterally imposed a cut of Rs 15,033 crore and reduced our borrowing limits to Rs.38,937 crore. This decision of the Centre is totally unjustified and uncalled for,” he said.

The Finance Minister felt that this kind of cuts were against the spirit of federalism and had eroded the rights of the States.

Harish Rao also explained to the House how the Centre had the existence of the Finance Commission. “The government which is currently in power at the Centre has broken the tradition of implementing in toto the recommendations of the Finance Commission. The 15th Finance Commission recommended a special grant of Rs 723 crore to Telangana and an amount of Rs 171 crore towards nutrition to ensure that the tax devolution should not be less than the amount of devolution received by the State in 2019-20. By not accepting these recommendations, the Central government denied Telangana of its due share in the Finance Commission grants.

“For the period 2021-26, the 15th Finance Commission recommended grants amounting to Rs 5,374 crore to Telangana. By denying these grants, grave injustice has been done to Telangana. In the history of the country, no government has ignored the recommendations of the Finance Commission in such a blatant manner,” he lamented.

The Finance Minister also touched upon the NDA Government’s betrayal on the bifurcation-related promises made to Telangana. “Section 94(1) of the A.P.Reorganization Act mandates the Central government to provide tax concessions to the successor States in order to ensure industrialization and economic growth in the two States. By providing only nominal concessions, the Central government has ignored the interests of both the States,” he said.

Harish Rao also informed the House that, under section 94(2) of the A.P.Reorganization Act, the Central government should provide funds for the development of backward areas. Though the Centre is supposed to release a grant of Rs.450 crore per annum, grants for three years amounting to Rs.1,350 crore have not been released, he claimed.

He said that NITI Aayog had recommended to the Centre for the release of a grant of Rs.19,205 crore for Mission Bhagiratha and Rs.5,000 crore for Mission Kakatiya to Telangana. But the Central government has not released even one paise so far, he alleged.

“The 13th Schedule of the A.P.Reorganization Act has mandated the Centre to take necessary steps and to establish institutions for the sustained development of the State in the next 10 years. The Centre by its negligent attitude has not resolved many issues so far. Establishment of a Rail Coach Factory at Kazipet, Bayyaram Steel Plant and Girijan University have been specifically mentioned in the Reorganization Act. These mandates have not been fulfilled even after eight and a half years.

“In addition, the ITIR sanctioned to Telangana has been shelved. In accordance with section 3 of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, the matter relating to the share of the new State of Telangana in Krishna Waters has to be referred to the Brijesh Kumar Tribunal by the Centre. Because of the undue delay on the part of the Centre, the interests of Telangana people are being adversely impacted. More importantly, such delay on the part of the Centre is affecting Palamuru-Ranga Reddy lift irrigation project and Dindi project on the river Krishna. Telangana expresses its strong protest against delay running into decades in the name of Tribunals,” he informed the Assembly.

Harish Rao was equally critical of the Centre’s partisan behaviour towards Telangana with regard to the electricity-related disputes. “Another glaring instance of discrimination to Telangana is the order issued by the Union Power Ministry in August, 2022. In this order, Telangana government has been directed to pay pending dues of TS DISCOMs amounting to Rs.3,441.78 crore as principal and Rs.3,315.14 crore as late payment surcharge, totaling to Rs.6,756.92 crore to A.P.Genco within 30 days.

“Though Telangana has been pleading with the Central government regarding dues amounting to Rs 17,828 crore payable by Andhra Pradesh to Telangana Power Utilities, the request has been ignored without any reason. Left with no option, Telangana government had to approach the Court of Law,” he stated.

The Finance Minister also sought to expose the Centre’s ways in covering up its own blunder in connection with the transfer of funds for Centrally-sponsored schemes to Andhra Pradesh instead of Telangana. “In 2014-15, the first year of the formation of the State, the Ministries of Union Government inadvertently released Rs.495 crore, the Centre’s share of Centrally Sponsored Schemes to Andhra Pradesh instead of Telangana. The Centre has been ignoring requests of Telangana for redressing the injustice done either deliberately or mistakenly. The Central government has been totally indifferent in adjusting the amount credited to Andhra Pradesh account. The indifference in the implementation of many provisions in the Parliament enacted A.P.Reorganization Act is totally undemocratic,” he said.

He also gave a brief account of the significant progress achieved by Telangana in the last eight and a half years despite the continued non-cooperation from the Centre.

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