Post-bifurcation issues continue to haunt two Telugu-speaking states

 

by IANS | Mon, Feb 21, 2022, 03:45 PM

Hyderabad, Feb (IANS) Nearly eight years after the division of united Andhra Pradesh, post-bifurcation issues between the residuary state and the newly carved out Telangana remain unresolved.

No early end appears in sight to the issues related to division of assets, liabilities and certain institutions with both the Telugu states sticking to their stand. The central government has also failed to help the two states reach a mutually acceptable solution.

The post-bifurcation issues became more complicated with the Centre not fulfilling the commitments made to both the states in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2014.

In its latest effort to resolve these issues, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs on February 8 constituted a dispute resolution sub-committee under the chairmanship of a joint secretary to carry out the preparatory work and recommend practical ways to resolve the bilateral issues arising out of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.

The issues discussed at the first meeting of this new panel on February 17 were the same that were debated earlier. The discussions show that the states merely reiterated their earlier stands.

It was a virtual repeat of a meeting of the chief secretaries and other officials of the two states called by union home secretary Ajay Bhalla last month as both the states stuck to their stands on the pending bilateral issues.

Payment of power dues to the Andhra Pradesh Generation Corporation (AP GENCO) by the power distribution companies of Telangana, division of schedule IX and X institutions and sharing of Andhra Bhavan and Singareni Collieries property are some of the key issues pending between the Telugu states.

Some of these issues were discussed at the February 17 meeting. While Andhra Pradesh requested the Centre for settlement of Rs 3442 crore payable by TS GENCO as a standalone settlement, Telangana argued that it is Andhra Pradesh which has to pay the dues. The total dues which are receivable from Andhra Pradesh to the Telangana power utilities are Rs 12,532 crore after setting off dues payable to AP GENCO, says Telangana.

The government of Telangana claims that after the formation of Telangana state, AP GENCO suddenly stopped power supply and Telangana had to purchase power at high rates from the market. Telangana was deprived of low cost hydel power from the Sileru hydro power project, due to which the TS DISCOMs had to procure high cost power and consequently incurred huge financial costs. "If all the dues are considered such as debt servicing of Ananthapur and Kurnool districts and costs incurred due to purchase of thermal power, the Telangana utilities in fact have to receive a net amount of Rs 12,532 crore and not the other way round."

Telangana also told the Centre that ignoring its claims, AP GENCO filed a case in the high court. Telangana said it was ready for a settlement of the dispute through mutual agreement between AP Power Utilities and TS Power utilities provided the court case is withdrawn by AP GENCO.

On the issue of the division of the Andhra Pradesh State Financial Corporation (APSFC), Telangana once again maintained that unless the court cases filed by Andhra Pradesh are withdrawn, progress cannot be made.

The Centre was told that Andhra Pradesh unilaterally sent demerger proposals of APSFC to the Central Government for approval without the consent of Telangana on the strength of the resolution passed by the Board where there are no Telangana representatives. In May, 2016, Telangana urged the Centre to reconstitute the board of APSFC to have equal representation for Telangana and the request is still pending. It also urged the Centre not to approve the demerger scheme of APSFC.

On the removal of the anomaly in taxation matters, Telangana reiterated that there was no need to take up the amendment of the A.P. Reorganisation Act, 2014 after seven-and-a-half years. This would open the door to endless litigation and further complicate the settled matters. Andhra Padesh has proposed that in case amendment is not feasible, the Central Government may compensate for the loss.

The Government of Telangana has made a strong demand that the monies which are due from Andhra Pradesh should be settled immediately and payment be made. In the case of Central Sector schemes an amount of Rs 495.21 crore is due for more than 7 years. Similarly, the Government of Andhra Pradesh had agreed and given an undertaking for payment of the monies spent on common institutions such as the High Court and Raj Bhavan to the tune of Rs 315.76 crore.

Analysts point out that several disputes between the two states arose due to the completely different nature of bifurcation when compared to the division of other states like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh to carve out Jharkhand, Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh respectively.

Unlike the three new states carved out in 2000 which later developed their own state capitals, Hyderabad, the capital of combined Andhra Pradesh, went to Telangana as the city was geographically a part of the region.

Telangana with Hyderabad as its core was merged with the then Andhra State in 1956 to form Andhra Pradesh as a state of Telugu-speaking people. Till then Kurnool was the capital of Andhra State. Ever since Hyderabad became the capital of Andhra Pradesh, it witnessed massive expansion and all the administrative, political, legislative and business and industrial activities were concentrated there.

It was for mainly this reason that the formation of Telangana faced stiff opposition from the Andhra and Rayalaseema regions as a section felt that they were being deprived of a common asset built over nearly six decades.

"People from the 13 districts of Andhra Pradesh have great stakes including financial investments and family ties with the Telangana region, especially with Hyderabad. Bifurcation of Telangana for many from the Seema-Andhra region was too sudden, abrupt, and unscientific," pointed out political analyst Palwai Raghavendra Reddy.

With generations of people from the Seema-Andhra region settling in and around Hyderabad for business and professional reasons, disassociating them from here was a challenge. Due to better amenities and a better quality of life in Hyderabad, many government employees from Seema-Andhra did not wish to move away from there.

"For the first five years since bifurcation, both States had Chief Ministers who did not share a great rapport, and hence resolving issues took a back seat. Since Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy became CM of Andhra Pradesh, things might be looking better, but it's still a long way to go," he said.

What made things more complicated between the two states was the failure of the Narendra Modi government to honour the commitments made by the Centre to both of them at the time of bifurcation.

Major commitments which were part of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act 2014 remain unfulfilled even today.

"Many promises were made by Dr Manmohan Singh's Government to both States during Reorganization. But, the subsequent Narendra Modi Government failed to fulfil those promises, which led to continued problems in the region. Had both States received the benefits of the promises made to them like full financial support to the Polavaram, Kadapa steel plant, Visakha Railway Zone etc in Andhra Pradesh; Kazipet Coach Factory, National Project status to Kaleshwaram, ITIR etc in Telangana, things would have been better," said Raghavendra Reddy.

The recent comments made by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Parliament while attacking the Congress for the manner in which it divided Andhra Pradesh have also received flak, especially in Telangana.

Modi's remarks were dubbed as an insult to the Telangana movement by the Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) and the Congress party.

The central government is coming under fire from some sections in both the states for allegedly adding to the bitterness between the two states instead of helping them resolve the issues and create a congenial atmosphere by fulfilling the commitments.

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