News in The Hindu
3-month deadline for ration cards distribution in A.P.
Chief Minister insists on use of Iris technology, claiming it to be foolproof
Asks Civil Supplies officials to attend public grievances on day-to-day basis
Super fine rice available at Rs. 20 a kg in open market, says Finance Minister
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y. S. Rajsekhara Reddy has set a three-month deadline for the Civil Supplies Department to complete the task of distributing ration cards to families that have not received them so far.
Reviewing Civil Supplies issues here on Thursday, Dr. Reddy said iris technology, under which eyes of the beneficiaries are scanned, must be used as it was foolproof and would check duplication.
He asked Civil Supplies officials to attend the public grievances on day-to-day basis while distributing new cards.
Finance Minister K. Rosaiah, who spoke to reporters later, asserted that that super fine rice was available at Rs. 20 a kg even in the open market, contrary to claims by the critics.
He denied that he had made an attempt to shift a top Vigilance & Enforcement official to save rice millers for a pecuniary benefit.
He launched a tirade against the management of a Telugu newspaper for making this allegation “as part of its programme to serialise anti-government charges targeting Ministers this time”.
At a separate press conference, Civil Supplies Minister K. Venkatakrishna Reddy joined the tirade against the paper, citing a “baseless charge” made against him that he had diverted some fertilizer.
He said all he did was obtain one rake of fertilizer for Guntur district as there was a shortage.
He said he hailed from a family known for clean politics, and by continuing the tradition; he indeed, made Narasaraopet area in the district free from violence.
He said LPG cylinders would be supplied within six days of consumers applying, from November 1. A commitment to this effect was made by oil companies.
Tribals hail YSR’s gesture
Chief Minister promises to convert thandas into gram panchayats
Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy has positively reacted to Lambada tribals’ long pending demand to announce their hamlets, known as thandas, as gram panchayats.
Addressing a public meeting as part of ‘Indiramma Sambaralu” at the Government Junior College grounds here on Thursday, he said: “We convert thandas into panchayats wherever possible.” The announcement met with a round of applause from the audience.
He also reiterated the government’s commitment to take up the Nakkalagandi lift to irrigate 3.5 lakh acres in Devarakonda division. “After completion of the Krishna Tribunal’s scrutiny, we will take up the project and are determined to supply water to all the fluoride-hit villages,” he maintained.
Pension for physically challenged persons had been hiked from Rs. 200 to Rs. 500 per month, he announced saying that it would come into force from next month. He also observed that the series of suicides of weavers had come to a halt, thanks to the steps taken up by the government.
Before addressing the public meeting, he inaugurated the Mandal Praja Parishad Officer’s office constructed at a cost of Rs. 38 lakh in the town. Later, he distributed cheques worth Rs. 28 crore among the local women groups.
Besides the Ministers — K. Jana Reddy, R. Damodar Reddy — the ZP Chairperson K. Narayana Reddy, local MLA Ravindra Kumar of the CPI, Collector Muddasani Purushottam Reddy and others took part in the programme.
Metro rail: relief plan for the affected
50-60 acres of government land earmarked and frozen for the purpose
Compensation could be land to land or 100 p.c. for the poor and weaker sections
It could also be 50 p.c. reliefs with structural compensation award of GHMC
Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited (HMR), the government’s special purpose vehicle to oversee construction of the elevated project, is readying a relief and rehabilitation plan for owners of affected private properties on the three routes.
The compensation could even be land to land or 100 per cent for the poor and weaker sections as also those losing their entire livelihood. Alternatively, it could be 50 per cent compensation and the regular structural compensation award given by GHMC.
“Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy was very clear about total rehabilitation of poor people.
We have earmarked and frozen 50-60 acres of government land for the purpose so that residences can be built very near to the sites where their original plots are,” explained HMR Managing Director N.V.S. Reddy.
The extent of land delineated for rehabilitation could be more while the project begins to shape up as HMR was holding negotiations with various government agencies.
The area would be over and above the 269 acres spread over 33 select stations and three depots to be given to Maytas, the BOT developer, for real estate development but would be outside the domain of the latter.
The government has already made it clear that the 269 acres would be only for renting out and not to sell during the concession period of 35 years.
“We are not giving them an extra inch of land other than what is there in the agreement.
Maytas can develop up to 18.5 million sq.ft of property space – 12.5 million sq.ft over depots and six million sq.ft over stations being built over government land,” affirmed Mr. Reddy.
About 1,355 properties, both government and private are going to be affected across the three corridors – Miyapur to L.B.Nagar (Line 1), Jubilee Bus Station to Falaknuma (Line 2) and Nagole to Shilparamam (Line 3), for alignments, curves, bends and stations.
Private properties alone constitute a vast majority totalling to 1,266 structures, hence the compensation package.
Actor Rajendra Prasad calls on YSR
Popular actor Rajendra Prasad called on Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy on Thursday. Mr. Prasad met Dr. Reddy at the Camp Office and invited him to inaugurate the new guest house constructed by him at Tirumala. Congress sources maintained that Mr. Prasad was joining the Congress party shortly.
FAPCCI to honour Chief Minister
Federation of Andhra Pradesh Chamber of Commerce & Industries (FAPCCI) will honour Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy for his government’s achievement in securing investment commitments to the tune of Rs. 1 lakh crore in the State. This was conveyed by FAPCCI president, Suraj Prasad Agarwal.
YSR for Srikakulam
Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy will be making a whirlwind tour of the district on October 26.
According to a tentative programme, Dr. Reddy will reach Itchapuram at 10.30 a.m. and inaugurate a tourism park at 10.45 a.m. At 11 a.m., he will participate in the Indiramma Sambaralu and leave for Kotabammali by helicopter.
Kurnool general hospital banks on Arogyasri
Administration being revamped to attract patients
Medical expenses, patients’ transport to be looked after
Hospital to supply drugs and ensure post-operative care
The Government General Hospital here is pinning hopes on Arogyasri scheme to pool resources for the institution. Superintendent M.S.R.K. Prasad said on Thursday that the hospital administration system was being revamped to attract patients under Arogyasri.
Dr. Prasad said unlike other private sector hospitals, the general hospital would take care of the entire medical expenses of the patients including transport. The hospital would supply drugs and ensure post-operative care too. He said if the patient went to private hospitals, they needed to buy medicines which would be reimbursed later. He said the general hospital was a time-tested institution with 350 assistant professors, 58 professors and 200 nursing staff and with developed speciality departments. It would undertake all types of cases except those pertaining to cardio-thoracic surgery.
Rs. 1 cr. revenue
He said the hospital would be able to earn revenue of Rs. 1 crore per month. Of it, 65 per cent would be the share of the hospital while the remaining would be the incentive for medical and paramedical staff.
Dr. Prasad said the doctors were being given orientation to handle Arogyasri cases which required careful documentation and treatment to the satisfaction of the patients. An exclusive Arogyasri ward for men and women would be opened and the service would be on par with a paying block with permanent nursing station and visiting doctors. Two Arogra Mitra volunteers would be stationed at the out-patient counter to help admission of Arogyasri patients.
Dr. Prasad said last month the hospital treated 150 cases but not registered as Arogyasri cases due to lack of awareness among the medical staff.
News in Deccan Chronicle
The Chief Minister, Dr Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, on Thursday asked people to compare development in the state under the Congress rule with that under the Telugu Desam to decide who is working for the poor. “Everybody in the country is convinced about the remarkable development in the state,” the Chief Minister claimed.
Speaking at the third phase of Indiramma celebrations at Devarakonda in Nalgonda district, Dr Reddy became emotional while speaking on development in the last four-and-a-half years. “We increased pension from Rs 100 to Rs 200. For the disabled, it was raised to Rs 500 and we are giving it to all those who applied. We are not bothered about their party affiliations. Everybody should benefit,” Dr Reddy said. He announced that the state is witnessing unprecedented growth in the last four years and state was leading the country in development.
The Chief Minister made it clear that his government’s top priority was health of the poor and to achieve that, for the first time in the country the medical insurance scheme, 108 ambulance service and 104 mobile clinics have been introduced. “Poor people are sleeping confidently as their health is taken care of by the government.” He promised to take up the Nakkalagandi project soon after the Krishna Tribunal judgement. The project will provide irrigation water to 3.5 lakh acres in Nalgonda district and significantly solves the floride problem that is rampant in the district.
The liquor policy of the Congress government is hopelessly double-faced as has been the case with its predecessors too. So it is no wonder that liquor is flowing freely through the state. Take for instance, the Chief Minister, Dr Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy’s direction to the excise department two weeks ago to seal belt shops selling liquor. No action has been taken to implement it so far.
Instead, the government took a few decisions in the meantime that actually increased the supply of liquor and its consumption. It also increased prices of certain categories of liquor to enhance revenue. Even a cursory analysis of the events would make it clear that the government is not sincere about closing down belt shops which are a major menace in rural areas.
The complaints of the free flow of liquor even in remote rural areas had prompted Dr Reddy to issue the order. Belt shops are the illegal “sub outlets” set up to sell liquor in places which are far from the licenced outlets. In many places, the belt shops are run by the original licence holders themselves. But the excise commissioner, Mr Hiralal Samaria, even refuses to admit that belt shops exist. He prefers to say that the department will take action whenever there is unauthorised sale of duty- paid liquor. It has registered 3,500 such cases so far, he adds. “But the fact remains that there are at least 1.5 lakh belt shops are operating even in remote villages, which do not get drinking water,” argues Telugu Mahila chief, Ms Roja, who has taken up the belt shop menace as her pet project. She dares the Chief Minister and the excise commissioner to accompany her to any village to check whether belt shops exist or not.
Successive governments have promised to end the menace of belt shops but have never taken action since liquor trade is a major revenue source. “The belt shop system is a necessary evil,” says a representative of the AP Wine Dealer Assocation. Retailers who run belt shops say they have little choice in the context of high tax, licence fee and pressure from the excise department to increase sales. The government earned Rs 1,800 crore though auction of retail outlets in 2006. Though the number of outlets came down, the auction amount touched Rs 3,300 crore during the 2008 auctions.
Some retailers were even ready to bid Rs 1 crore to Rs 2.5 crore for a single shop. It is evident that the bidders are depending more on belt shops than licenced outlets to get back this huge investment. Sources said the government had also given clear instructions to officials to ensure that the revenue from liquor trade did not fall below the targeted Rs 9,800 crore in 2008-2009, particularly in view of the shortfall in revenue expected from land sale. To make more money, the government also issued orders permitting additional production of IML in the first week of October. It also permitted manufacture of beer by charging 50 paise per additional litre. This Janus-faced policy on the liquor front would see to it that belt shops continue to thrive in the state, the Chief Minister’s promise notwithstanding.
Successive governments in the state have failed to even reduce liquor consumption among people, not to speak of implementing total prohibition. However, when parties are in the Opposition, they make an issue out of the free flow of liquor in the state particularly when elections are round the corner. The Telugu Desam, which imposed a ban on liquor and then lifted it, is now targeting the ruling Congress for going back on its poll promise of gradual phasing out of liquor. Telugu Mahila chief, Ms Roja’s outcry against liquor comes at a time when her party president, Mr N. Chandrababu Naidu, openly announced in the Assembly that prohibition is impractical. The state first experimented with total prohibition way back in 1969. But it was implemented only in the Andhra region and the rulers later scrapped it citing flow of liquor from neighbouring Telangana.
After coming to power, the TD leader, Mr N.T. Rama Rao, set up the AP Beverages Corporation and monopolised liquor trade in 1986. Modern techniques were used to pack arrack in s ets and distribute them in remote villages. NTR even named the scheme “vaaruna vahini.” Ironically, NTR introduced total prohibition in 1994. After dethroning him, his son-in-law, Mr Chandrababu Naidu, further tightened prohibition only to scrap it in 1997 citing financial crisis. The present Chief Minister, Dr Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy, in his role as Opposition leader, constantly attacked Mr Naidu for failing to control liquor flow. But the flow has become a torrent during his government’s tenure and liquor is the second highest revenue earner for the government.