Finance Minister Arun Jaitley addressed the concerns of agitating members of NDA ally Telugu Desam Party (TDP) regarding the “injustice” meted out to Andhra Pradesh in the Union Budget 2018.
Addressing the Lok Sabha on Thursday, 8 February, Jaitley said that the Centre understands the needs of the state.
“When Andhra Pradesh was created by bifurcation, some of us had actually fought for the rights of people of Andhra even when we supported the creation of Telangana because Andhra was going to be economically at a disadvantage. Therefore a particular package was promised to the people of AP in the form of AP Reorganisation Act,” he said.
“Many of the projects have been implemented under the Act. Some of them are work-in-progress,” Jaitley informed amid protests in the House.
Slogans like “we want justice” and “nahi chalega, nahi chalega” were being raised while the Finance Minister spoke.
Jaitley reaffirmed that Andhra Pradesh is entitled to institutions which it lost to Telangana in the bifurcation.
He said that the Centre has released funds as promised for the institutions being created and that the funding process will continue.
One of the major demands of the ruling TDP and the opposition parties in Andhra Pradesh is funds for the creation of the capital city.
Jaitley said that the Modi government has already made some payment for the capital as well as for development of backward districts in the state.
He said that the Centre has spent a substantial part of the expenditure in the Polavaram project. The project which will give a tremendous boost to irrigation in Andhra Pradesh has been accorded national project status by the Union Government.
“Rs 4.5 thousand crores have been paid through NABARD for Polavaram project,” Jaitley said.
The Finance Minister also said that two key issues are being discussed with the state government led by Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu.
He said that the Centre and officers of the state have worked out an arrangement in a meeting held on 7 February regarding amount in lieu of special package.
“We will try and expedite the arrangement following consent from the state government,” he said.
Jaitley said that officers will also take up the concerns on revenue deficit.
“We are hoping for a solution in the next couple of days,” Jaitley said adding that other concerns such as those on Railways and petroleum are being worked out with concerned ministries.
Opposition and members of the ruling TDP had called for a shutdown across Andhra Pradesh today to protest the snub the state was given in the Budget.
Schools and bus services remained shut as members of opposition parties staged sit-ins at many places across the state. The protesters, including members of Left, Congress, YSR Congress and Pawan Kalyan’s Jana Sena, demanded a special status for the state under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act.