Centre to approve a package of Rs 20,000 cr as special development fund for 7 districts !!

Times of India reports that the Centre is all set to approve a financial package of nearly Rs 20,000 crore as special development fund for seven districts in the residuary state.

Four Rayalaseema districts (Anantapur, Chittoor, Kadapa and Kurnool ) and three north coastal Andhra districts (Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam) will get the funds under this package.According to reliable sources, the Centre also agreed to the AP government’s request to allow the state to utilize the funds released under the package for the upliftment of 42 identified backward areas in East and West Godavari, Guntur and Prakasam districts.

The AP government has requested Rs 24,350 crore under the package and highly placed sources told TOI that the Centre is likely to sanction around Rs 20,000 crore based on the recommendation of the Union ministry of planning. “The Planning Commission approved the package over a month ago after which the Union planning ministry has okayed it. It has to be cleared by the finance ministry and the Prime Minister. We hope to see the formal announcement of the package by PM Narendra Modi in a week or two,“ a senior AP official negotiating the package with the Centre told TOI.

“The planning and finance ministries have assured us that 90 per cent of what we have asked for under the special development package will be sanctioned,“ he added. Officials managed to score a point by securing funds for 42 identified backward areas in four south and central coastal districts even though section 46 (3) of the AP Reorganisation Act defines only the Rayalaseema region and north coastal Andhra as backward areas eligible for the package.

Four major areas have been identified for utilization of funds: Expansion of road network and connecting them with the state and national highways, for which Rs 7,500 crore has been requested by the state government. To provide safe drinking water, quality power supply , minor irrigation and tanks development, the state has sought Rs 8,500 crore. For setting up new regional hospitals with modern medical infrastructure and improving the human development index by strengthening women and child welfare programmes, AP has sought Rs 1700 crore. It would cost Rs 3,000 crore for improving education infrastructure and sanitation programme in the backward areas, the TDP regime has said.

Apart from these areas, funds released under the package will be spent to develop small ports in Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam. The residuary state has asked for Rs 700 crore to expand information technology by providing higher bandwidth and internet in these seven districts. Modernisation of ag riculture, setting up of cold storages and green house farming will also get funds.Separate funds have been sought for skill development programmes so that employment opportunities can be improved.

Once approved, the funds will be released in a phased manner over a five-year period beginning April 2015.“However, the chief minister had in a letter dated June 23 this year requested the Prime Minister to release at least Rs 5,000 crore during the current financial year in view of the Rs 16,500 crore revenue deficit the residuary state is facing post-bifurcation. We are still making efforts to get the funds released under the package advanced to this financial year instead of April next year,“ said sources.



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