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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Leftists forced the firing victims to die

The post-firing incidents at Mudigonda village kicked up several doubts over the intentions of the Communist leaders: whether they are really fighting for securing land for the poor people, or get political mileage out of it.

The way the Communist leaders behaved after the firing incident at the village showed their inhuman attitude and utter regard towards the plight of the victims. Eyewitnesses say that the death toll would have been minimal had the injured were shifted to the hospital immediately rather than to the Collectorate for agitation. A local surgeon, who saw the clippings in the television news, observed that the victims did not succumb to bullet injuries instantaneously, but were battling for death for some time. Had the bodies been in the hospital rather than on the road, the persons would have been saved. "I feel that a few of the six dead were not clinically dead at the spot due to the bullet injuries. They died because there was no treatment for several hours," he felt.

Locals wonder how could the CPI-M leaders come to the conclusion that those who received bullet injuries died, since it was for the doctors to confirm whether the injured were dead or alive. Then a post-mortem is to be conducted following which the bodies could be handed over to the relatives. This process was not followed and the fate of the injured was left to the angry CPM activists, who took them to the Collectorate rather than the hospital. The agitators, who are making hue and cry today about the death of the six persons did not make any attempt to shift the injured to the hospital and save their lives. In stead, they mishandled the injured and tried to gain political mileage, they observed.

YSR's dream: hi speed rail corridor

The Chief Minister Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy will seek Viability Gap Funding from the Prime Minister and the Central team for the Inter-City High Speed Rail Corridor between Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad via Dornkal connecting Vijayawada, Chennai and Bangalore. This will be connected to the already proposed high speed rail corridor of Mumbai-Delhi. This will integrate emerging cities in Deccan and Southern parts of India into one large metro grid to enhance social, leisure, tourism, infrastructure, and business connectivity.

This will use the potential high-speed passenger traffic as a productivity fillip for new niche markets on the corridors and nodes and will de-congest intra-city and encourage inter-city business opportunities. The State Government will plead that the project must be taken up by the Indian Railways on a PPP/SPV Model with direct Viability Gap Funding (VGF) from the Centre. This high speed rail corridor will facilitate the common people to go to any of these cities in the morning and come back in the evening.

The Chief Minister will seek a total assistance of about Rs. 8800 crore for the revenue, energy, urban development, industries, road transport, panchayat raj and railway sectors. He will also seek Rs.1550 crore for Bhu Bharathi since it is the endeavour to provide a firm and conclusive title deed to each one of these 3.47 crore premise owners. It involves resurvey operations using space technology for aerial photography, Geographical Information System (GIS) and Differential Global Positioning System (DGPS) imposed upon digitised cadastral maps. The concept is proven and is being successfully implemented as a pilot project in Nizamabad.

The Chief Minister will also raise the gas supply issue and explain that the existing gas based power projects (1276 MW) are operating only at 50% due to non supply of gas and the new gas based power projects (1500 mw) completely lying idle.

GAIL have not honoured the commitment to supply adequate gas. As a result, GoAP have to bear additional financial burden of around Rs.4000 crore to procure expensive power. Production sharing contract under New Exploration Licensing Policy (NELP) has a provision to opt for Profit Petroleum in kind. This option is to be exercised for supply in kin from K-G Basin to these stranded assets.

Government of India will be requested to ensure supply of Profit Petroleum in kind to gas based power projects in A.P. As far as Pricing Policy is concerned, the State Government will explain that in the absence of a competitive Market in a Monopoly Situation, "Market Price Discovery" is not possible. Production Sharing Contract under NELP provides for pricing methodology to be referred to an independent Regulatory Authority. The Chief Minister have already addressed GoI on the need to establish a Regulatory Authority in the current market context. Expert Committee of Planning Commission has also endorsed the same.

The State Government will request GoI to set up an independent Market Regulator to scrutinize apex and for methodology for pricing of Natural Gas. Tariff Commission has recommended lower tariffs to be charged by GAIL to implement these recommendations.

Tariff Commission have recommended lower tariffs for gas to be charged by GAIL. Tariff Commission also directed excess charges of Rs.606 crores recovered between 1997 and 2006 are to be returned. PMO referred the matter to the Planning Commission. They have confirmed Tariff Commission recommendations.

A.P. Government's sponsored company to develop pipeline infrastructure on 'common-carrier' basis. The State Government will request the GoI to accord approval for Krishna-Godavari Gas Network Limited (KGGNL), a Public Private Partnership, to lay gas pipelines in the State.

Ministry of Petroleum and Natural GAs (MoPNG) is insisting on a binding gas supply contract. Risk in laying pipeline is to be entirely borne by Krishna-Godavari Gas Network Limited (KGGNL). Any further delay in laying of gas pipeline will hamper gas requirements of all regions of state. The GoAP will also seek to allocate a part of the Centre's profit gas from KG basin to AP for Krishna-Godavari Gas Network Limited (KGGNL), a common carrier.

The Chief Minister will also seek Central assistance for Hyderabad Outer Ring Road Project, Hyderabad Metro Rail Project (MRTS), development of Hyderabad Outer Ring Road (ORR) Project, bypassing NH 7&9 through Hyderabad city.

The Chief Minister will also seek central assistance for the refinery project by ONGC at Kakinada and a Petrochemical investment region (PCPIR) in Visakhapatnam.

The Chief Minister will also explain that there is a necessity for urgent upgradation of 17 important State roads into National Highways. Upgradation proposals covering a length of 4950 kms were already submitted to the MOSRT&H. He will also seek assistance for major bridge over Rayapatnam, Nizamabad-Jagadalpur of NH-16, another major bridge across river Godavari and re-alignment of NH-202 from Eturnagaram to A.P.State Border. He will seek central funds for construction of roads in the extremist-affected areas and construction of rural roads under PMGSY.

Spotlight: Union mantris from state ‘desert’ YSR

While the state government and the state Congress are struggling to wriggle out of the fallout of the police firing and resultant six deaths in Mudigonda, all the central ministers from the state, save expression of sympathy for the victims by Renuka Chowdhury and S Jaipal Reddy, have maintained a stony silence on the entire episode.

No statement either condemning the police firing or supporting chief minister Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, has been issued by the AP ministers in the Union council of ministers.

There are six ministers from the state in the Union council of ministers. Of these, Jaipal Reddy is the lone cabinet minister while the rest, Dasari Narayana Rao, Jairam Ramesh, Renuka Chowdhury, Panabaka Lakshmi and Purandeswari are ministers of state.

None of the other senior leaders at the Centre including G Venkataswamy, deputy leader of the party in Lok Sabha and N Janardhan Reddy, former chief minister, spoke on the issue. Rayapati Sabasivarao simply issued a statement condemning the attempt by the opposition parties to change the YSR government in the state.

In fact, several leaders were reluctant to broach the subject and defend the chief minister openly on the issue.

“I am a small person in the party. Small people are not supposed to comment on big issues like firing and its legitimacy. Kindly do not press for a reaction from me,” said a Union minister who sought anonymity.

In fact, Dasari Narayana Rao was very much in town, but preferred not to comment on the incident. So was the case with Purandeswari and Panabaka Lakshmi, both of them making themselves unavailable for comment.

Analysts say this clearly shows the lack of solidarity and the sorry state of affairs in the Congress party.

The reason for this silence, party observers comment, being in case Rajasekhara Reddy has to be replaced, they could be aspirants for that post.

Buzz: Media was informed in advance?

The presence of media in large numbers, particularly channels like ETV and TV9 is raising suspicion that they knew some big development that was likely to happen at Mudigonda.

Mudigonda is a small mandal headquarter, one among thousands of mandals in the state. So how come the channels were present in advance before the incident took place. The place is also far off from Hyderabad, over 250 kms to be precise.

Even Vijayawada is a good two hours journey from Mudigonda. Therefore it is not possible for them to say that they rushed the team immediately. No channel has the wherewithal and equipment to cover each and every mandal let lone a district.

So it obvious that the incident was a pre-planned one and it was done with the intention of embarrassing the Y S Rajashekar Reddy government.

Why is Narayana opposed to YSR's ouster?

Once again, Communist Party of India State secretary K Narayana has displayed his unflinching loyalty to Chief Minister Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, at a time when all the other Opposition parties, including the CPI-M, were gunning for YSR's head.

It surprised many a political observer as to why Narayana did not agree with the demand of the Opposition parties that YSR should step down as the Chief Minister. Surprising, because Narayana has been actively participating in the "Bhoo Poratam" launched by the CPI-M these days and is even facing a "Sedition case" from the government. Why then did he differ in seeking the ouster of YSR?

Makhdoom Bhavan sources point out that Narayana has never been opposing YSR, as he is the biggest beneficiary of the Chief Minister's offerings. Right from the beginning, Narayana has been displaying pro-YSR stand, whether it is Pothireddypadu, Polavaram or Raghuram Cements issue. In this regard, even his own party leaders are opposing his attitude. His so-called participation in the agitations against the govenment are only superficial. In a way, he has been acting as a "covert" in the whole land struggle operation, as he is said to be the one who has given the hint to the government to disturb the fast-unto-death by the Reds. So, naturally, Narayana has that gratitude!

Buzz: PM satisfied with YSR's explanation

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Monday reviewed the law and order situation in the State in the wake of police firing in Mudigonda in Khammam district where six people died when the Left parties sponsored Bhooporatam turned violent.

Immediately on arrival by a special plane from Delhi late at night, Dr Singh drove to Raj Bhavan and discussed the issue with Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhar Reddy, Home Minister K. Jana Reddy, chief secretary J. Harinarayan, director general of police M. A. Basith and other senior police and civil officials.

Sources told this correspondent that the Prime Minister patiently heard the Chief Minister who explained to him the struggle for land launched by Left parties and their attempts to grab government, wakf, temple, assigned, tank bed and other lands. “The Prime Minister was apparently satisfied with the explanation given by Chief Minister,” the source disclosed. Activists of the Left parties tried to grab lands in 1400 places and their attempts were thwarted by local police, the Chief Minister told the Prime Minister.

Ministers attack the Left, but YSR goes soft

The Congress leaders, particularly the ministers in the Rajasekhar Reddy cabinet, who did not dare to talk about the Mudigonda firing incident fearing repraisal from the people, started raising their voice after a couple of days.

Minister for Health Sambhani Chandrasekhar, who hails from Khammam district, was scared of going to the district on Saturday. He picked up courage and went to Khammam only on Monday and attacked the Communists, holding them responsible for the firing incident. Roads and Buildings Minister T Jeevan Reddy, Transport Minister Kanna Lakshminarayana, Marketing Minister Botsa Satyanarayana and others came down heavily on the Communists and the Telugu Desam leaders for trying to politicise the Bhooporatam issue. They even demanded that the government would have to file "attempt to murder case" against the Communist leaders for causing the firing.

Surprisingly, the Chief Minister has decided to go soft on the Reds. In a television programme on Sunday night, he said the cause for which the Communists had been fighting is the same for which the government is striving to achieve. "The Communists are our friends and they are giving support to our government at the Centre. We have a common principle of upholding the secularism. They have every right to fight for the land issue; and as a ruling party, we have every right to explain our programme in this regard," he said.

Apparently, YSR must have got an advice from the high command not to make any damaging statements against the Left, since there is every possibility of the Left theatening to withdraw support to the UPA government, if things precipitate. Hence, the change in CM's stand!!

High command rejects demand for Reddy's resignation

With several parties, including Left and the BJP, clamouring for the blood of the Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, the Congress today started singing the tune of healing touch and rejected demands for Y S Rajasekhar Reddy's resignation in the wake of the Khammam police firing.

"We do not see that it is an occasion to ask for the resignation (of Chief Minister) when constructive, concrete and serious action is being taken," party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi told reporters here.

Singhvi said it is "unfair to link unlinkables and connect the unconnectables" when told that Reddy has been in a series of controversies of late and that regional parties like TDP and TRS have also trained guns at the Chief Minister.

His comments came close on the heels of both CPI(M) and BJP's demands for Reddy's resignation and the Left party's decision to step up its agitation seeking distribution of land to the poor in the state.

Singhvi insisted that the Chief Minister has taken a number of steps to address the problem and has even announced a judicial inquiry into the police firing that claimed six lives in Mudigonda in Khammam district on Saturday.

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh earlier in the day spoke to Reddy and expressed regret at the "unfortunate incident" and reiterated the government's commitment to redistribute surplus land and fulfil its stated commitments to the landless.

At the same time, Singhvi sidestepped questions whether the party high command was satisfied with the performance of the Chief Minister.

Party sources feel any action against the Chief Minister at this point of time could prove counter-productive for the organisation.

Curtain-raiser: YSR's wishlist for PM's visit

The Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh who will be arriving in Hyderabad tonight for a whole day's working visit tomorrow on State-specific projects will review the achievement, plan and demands of various vital departments like Agriculture, Irrigation, Cooperatives, T R&B, Revenue, MA&UD etc. in two separate sessions.

The Chief Minister will utilise the opportunity to seek not only additional State-specific Central Assistance for Agriculture, Irrigation, infrastructure etc, but also to show-case achievement of Andhra Pradesh in Irrigation and various other sectors.

This is the first time that a Prime Minister visiting a State and spending a whole day discussing in depth all the specific issues and developmental issues. The Prime Minister will be accompanied by Union Agriculture Minister Mr Sharad Pawar, Union Finance Minister Mr Chidambaram, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission Mr Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Secretaries of the Union Ministries concerned and top Central Officials. Dr. Singh will have a high-level discussion with the Chief Minister Dr Y S Rajasekhara Reddy, Ministers concerned, Advisers to the State Government, Chief Secretary and other top officials of the State Government.

First session of the Prime Minister's review meeting will start at 10.00 am at Jubilee Hall, will continue up to 1.00 p.m. The forenoon session will review Food Security, Agriculture Plan, Agriculture Extension, Cooperatives and Irrigation. The session will start with brief introductory speeches by the Prime Minister, Chief Minister and close with their concluding remarks. There will be a lunch break for two hours and the Chief Minister will host a lunch for the Prime Minister and the Central Team.

The Afternoon session will start at 3.00 p.m. and will continue up to 5.45 p.m. In this session the Prime Minister and team will review State-specific projects of Revenue, Energy, Infrastructure, OR Project, Urban Development, Industries, Road Transport, Panchayat Raj and Railways.

Government of India has selected Andhra Pradesh since the Prime Minister felt it is the most happening State and it is from here that he wants the country to take a kick off for fast development and boost agricultural production. He was particularly concerned about the food security and rice production in particular and Andhra Pradesh is the State which has the capability to take off, thanks to the massive irrigation facilities it has created and copious rains it has received consecutively for the last four years.

The Chief Minister held a special meeting to finalise the presentations and issues to be brought before the Prime Minister and the Central team.

The Chief Minister will take up irrigation as top priority to seek maximum assistance under the Special package, many proposed projects under AIBP and DPAP schemes. He will also explain to the Prime Minister the 12 lakh ayacut for which irrigation facilities are created under the Jalayagnam programme, show him the villages and projects through the help of a map, the areas to be covered under the numerous projects which are in full swing.

The Chief Minister will present before the Prime Minister a unique State Agricultural Plan integrating all the district plans ensuring baseline share of agriculture in its total state plan expenditure to get the new Additional Central Assistance. The State government is making all efforts to complete all projects under the AIBP. The State Government will also highlight the Seed Plan involving all institutions both private and public.

The Chief Minister will explain the major strategies for improving crop sector like stabilising the cropped area, bridging the yield gap, diversification, research support, improving credit delivery, rural infrastructure etc. In the agriculture sector, the State govt. will seek Central Assistance of Rs. 3258 crore. The State Govt. will also seek additional Central Assistance to the tune of Rs.1280.69 crore per annum and a total of Rs.5997.95 crore during the XI plan period for agriculture and allied sectors.

The State Government will undertake major expansion and revamping of State Agricultural Extension Systems. The State will also seek assistance to implement the Vaidyanathan Committee Report. The Chief Minister will explain to the Prime Minister development of modern markets and encouraging linkages by using cooperatives and contract farming etc.

The State will also present before the Prime Minister the State strategy for increasing Rice production and productivity and bringing in additional area under cultivation with the help of the massive irrigation systems being created. The State is also going for intensification --interventions at the farming level based on yield gap between the potential and the actual. Tools will be employed for introducing appropriate mechanical devices, critical inputs, compulsory green manuring etc. Special focus will be given on districts like North Coastal Andhra, where the gap is the highest with special attention to water management and drainage.

State strategy for increasing pulse production includes compulsory mixed-cropping with groundnut, maize, jowar; promoting deep-tillage practices through custom hiring centres, expanding in non-traditional areas (rice fallows, new command areas etc.) and promoting critical inputs like use of quality seeds.

The Prime Minister will be asked to clear the Indira Sagar (Polavaram) Indira Sagar Lift Irrigation, Rajiv Sagar (Dummugudem) Lift Irrigation scheme, Sripadasagar (Yellampally Barrage), Bhupatipalem, Komaram, Masurumilli, Peddavagu (Neelwai), Modikunta Vagu, Kalwakurthy Lift Irrigation Scheme (MGLI), Nettampadu Lift Irrigation (Jawahar LIS), projects in principle pending final clearance. He would also seek central assistance for construction of 2573.86 kms roads in the remote areas covering 18 districts costing Rs. 565.83 crores. The State will seek enhancement of refinance of NABARD from existing 40 to 75%.

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