AP: Politically embattled CM Reddy fights back
OT, November 2, 2012 06:20 IST
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy, may be politically embattled, but that has not deterred him from launching an extensive, all out campaign for implementing several development schemes, which he believes will help him and the Congress regain lost ground.
And what better way to do it than to unroll an extensive mass contact programme?
“Taking administration to peoples’ door is the real challenge. Depending on the feedback, necessary changes are being made in welfare schemes at the state and district level to suit local conditions,’’ the Chief Minister (CM) told Asad in an exclusive interview during his Indiramma Baata tour to the state.
Consider the following: Reddy has been instrumental in unveiling the Indiramma Baata programme or taking governance to the citizens. Since the launch of this new mass contact programme in July 2012, the CM spends nine out of 30 days a month outside state capital Hyderabad.
Indiraamma Baata has the potential to become a case study for policy makers, elected governments and political scientists in the years to come. Under the scheme, Andhra Pradesh has become the only state in the country that provides rice at one rupee per kilo in its ration shops for intended beneficiaries. This scheme is to continue until February, 2013.
The Reddy government has launched the Indira Jalaprabha plan to provide water for arid lands and Arogya Sri to give accessible healthcare, providing easy loans to women from lower income backgrounds.
About 3.60 lakh unemployed youth would be trained and provided jobs under the Rajiv Yuva Kiranalu (RYK) programme in Andhra Pradesh this year. This ambitious scheme aims to address the duality of unemployment and high demand for workforce. According to government plans, in the next three years the scheme is expected to create employment opportunities for 15 lakh unemployed youth. The success of the programme can be gauged from the fact that more than 17 lakh candidates have already registered at www.ryk.cgg.gov.in.
REEMAP has been constituted as a society for the coordination and implementation of RYK. It focuses on several quality inputs like biometric attendance, third party evaluation, course standardisation, certification, post-placement support and job scan. In addition, REEMAP has directly taken up pilot training schemes which focus on innovative courses.
To provide education to the poor and low income groups, the state government has introduced a fee reimbursement scheme. Under the scheme, 27 lakh students have benefited with an outlay of Rs 3,500 crores. For the first bank loans to women and crop loans to farmers are being provided at three per cent annual interest and whatever balance interest payable to the bank, is being provided by the state government as interest subsidy.
Says Chief Minister Reddy: “This helps farmers, women groups and other vulnerable sections by rescuing them from the clutches of private money lenders and fleecing micro financiers.
“Andhra Pradesh is the only state where this facility is provided. Since the inception of the scheme, Rs 849 crores has time an amount of Rs 5,250 crores was released to clear dues during the last one year.
The state government is providing interest subsidy to farmers, women and other vulnerable sections of society. During the last one year, Rs 842 crores have been released.
Andhra Pradesh stands as the benchmark in implementing various central schemes.”
During his periodic visits to district headquarters, towns and villages, the CM, who took office on November 25, 2010, ensures that he personally interacts with farmers, tribal students, minorities and fishermen. “By doing so, I am able to ascertain whether the schemes aimed at reaching the people are effective. If not, then what are the reasons,’’ explains Reddy.
According to the CM, District Collectors have been instructed to focus on rural and tribal areas and create awareness about government programmes through extensive use of electronic and print media.
Says Reddy: “We were not able to spend funds allotted under the SC-ST sub plans. Spending funds is one thing but ensuring that it reaches intended beneficiaries is another matter. All stakeholders and organisations were asked to contribute. This year under the plan budget, we have allocated Rs 8,657 crores under the SC sub plan and Rs 4,060 crores under the ST sub plan.’’
Reddy was instrumental in launching the unique ‘Mee Seva’ programme in November, 2011, designed to improve public facilities. According to him, it is envisaged to provide easier and faster services to the people. Presently there are 12 services on offer where people can avail of various facilities within 15 minutes by paying a nominal fee.
“In all, 50 types of services will be provided by the end of 2012. Every year more than two crore people visit government offices to obtain various certificates and documents and they waste precious time. With ‘Mee Seva’, the public can obtain these documents in a specified period of time. People can complain if services are not provided to them. A toll free number has been provided. An Act to be introduced soon will make public services mandatory. If service is not provided to the public, he will be paid ten times the amount he pays to obtain the service,” the CM declared, moving aggressively to counter the threat posed by his main rival Jagan Reddy.
Under Reddy, Andhra has launched its very own White Revolution by investing Rs 6,000 crore in the State final push Milk Mission. As the country’s second largest milk producer, Andhra has vast opportunities to develop the dairy sector and what the state needs now is a coordinated effort from concerned departments in the banking sector, rural development agencies implementing the NREGS and the central government to make the mission a success.
According to 2008-09 statistics, Andhra produces 254.56 lakh litres of milk per day compared to the national total of 2,885.09 lakh litres per day (LLPD). However the state ranks far below in overall milk productivity per day. Andhra’s production during 2010-11 was 298.01 LLPD, which nonetheless, represents a rising graph.
What are the CM’s plans to improve infrastructure, which would be vital in his attempts to implement his very own White Revolution? The steps include induction of new animals, fodder development and an extensive cattle rearing programme. The state also plans to expand its animal health programme, setting up milk procurement services and milk market development in Tier II and III towns.
According to Reddy, Andhra has set several impressive benchmarks in the implementation of MGNREGS. “The current focus is to bring under-utilised and fallow lands under cultivation by improving irrigation facilities, water shed development and land use planning. Under the Eleventh Five-Year-Plan, 9.7 lakh acres of land for SC/STs was developed; this included 3.5 lakh acres of horticulture land,’’ he said.
The Chief Minister says MNREGA is going to be the party’s main mantra in the 2014 General Elections. “With fairly high completion rates, the MGNREGA, with its inclusive approach, is a key employment generation scheme which stimulates capital formation in the rural sector. It has made a significant impact in the rural areas, leading to increased wages, eliminating gender disparity in wages, creating assets for poor people and limit migration,’’ he points out.
To provide education to poor and low income people, the state government has introduced the fee reimbursement scheme. Under it, 27 lakh students will benefit with an outlay of Rs 3,500 crores.
According to Reddy, in the coming three years, his government has mooted plans to spend Rs 2,500 crore on farm mechanisation. It is raining largesse in Andhra Pradesh. The key question is this: will people buy it? Because besides delivering good governance, the biggest challenge for the government today is how to neutralise YSR sympathy wave.
(The exclusive interview of Andhra Pradesh CM was first carried in the latest print edition of Governance Watch, a supplement of The Sunday Indian weekly that is published in more than ten languages including English, Hindi, Urdu and others.)
CAPTION: Andhra Pradesh chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy interacts with Pritabha College students during his Indiramma Baata rally in Pallametta, Prakasham district
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