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Andhra Pradesh Assembly passes three-capital Bill



Jagan Mohan Reddy

Andhra Pradesh Assembly on Monday passed a Bill to develop three capitals with Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy assuring justice to Amaravati farmers, who have been on a warpath for more than a month.

After nearly 12-hour-long marathon sitting, the Assembly passed by a voice vote Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill 2020 to develop Visakhapatnam and Kurnool as the capitals in addition to Amaravati.

Capital Region Development Authority Repeal Bill 2020 was also passed to repeal the CRDA Act passed in 2015 to develop Amaravati as the state capital.

The House also passed a resolution for development of three state capitals. According to the resolution, the move is aimed at decentralisation of governance and for ensuring inclusive development of all regions.

Replying to the debate on the Bills, the Chief Minister said the capital was not being shifted from Amaravati as it would continue as the legislative capital. “We are only developing two more capitals to do justice to other regions,” he said.

Reddy said Visakhapatnam would be the executive capital while Kurnool will be the judicial capital.

As the farmers in 29 villages of Amaravati continued their protest, the Chief Minister assured them that his government will do justice to them.

He announced that the farmers who gave their lands for the capital will be paid annuity term for 15 years as against 10 years announced by the previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government. The government also decided to increase ex-gratia for farmers from Rs 2500 per month to Rs 5000 per month.

The Chief Minister explained the reasons for the government’s decision to go for three capitals. He alleged that TDP government led by Chandrababu Naidu had turned development of Amaravati into real estate venture. He said the TDP leaders resorted to insider trading by buying lands in Amaravati at throw away prices before choosing the region as the state capital.

Speaking in the absence of TDP MLAs, who were suspended for stalling the proceedings, Reddy played audio-visual slides to present his arguments before the House. He highlighted how Naidu ignored the report of Sivaramakrishnan Committee, which had opposed concentrating development at one place and did not favour Krishna-Guntur region for developing the state capital.

The Chief Minister said developing 8 square kilometre Amaravati required a whopping Rs. 1 lakh crore and given the precarious finances of the state and his government’s priorities, it was not in a position to arrange the required funds. He said irrigation projects, drinking water, electricity for farmers, health, education and welfare programmes were the priorities of the government.

The passing of the Bills and the resolution capped a hectic day in Amaravati, which was rocked by protests by farmers and the opposition parties.

Police resorted to baton charge at few places to stop protestors from heading towards secretariat and Assembly. TDP MP from Guntur, Galla Jayadev was among those injured in the baton charge.

Running through the barren fields of Amaravati, the protestors fought pitched battled with the police. Some women were also injured in the clashes.

Late in the evening, police stopped Jana Sena President and actor Pawan Kalyan from visiting Amaravati villages. Chandrababu Naidu and TDP MLAs were also detained while trying to undertake apadyatra’ in support of farmers.

The day began with the chief minister chairing a meeting of state cabinet, which gave its nod for the two Bills.

It accepted the report of the high-power committee. This committee was constituted to analyse the reports of the experts’ committee and Boston Consultancy Group (BCG) which had recommended decentralization of state capital fundtions.

During the debate in Assembly, Speaker T Sitaram has sought a probe into the allegations of insider trading. The speaker assured him that the government will order a probe and bring the culprits to book.

The farmers, who had given 33,000 acres of land for development of Amaravati as the state capital in 2015, say that shifting of key capital functions would harm their interests.

Amaravati was the brainchild of Chandrababu Naidu, who wanted to develop it as a world-class city.

The Singapore government had prepared the master plan for Amaravati, the foundation stone for which was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October 2015.

The city was planned to be developed on the banks of Krishna river at a cost more than Rs 1 lakh crore.

After Naidu’s TDP lost power in the elections last year, Jagan Mohan Reddy had announced review of all projects launched during TDP rule. Alleging insider trading in development of Amaravati, the YSRCP government stopped all works in Amaravati and launched a probe.


With over 1 cr jabs by afternoon, India sets new record for daily Covid doses





 India on Friday set a new record of administering Covid vaccines after administering over a crore jabs by 1.30 p.m., breaking its previous record of 1.33 crore inoculations in a day, said Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya.

Mandaviya tweeted in Hindi (loosely translated as): “On the occasion of PM Modi’s birthday, India has made a record of fastest vaccination and has crossed the milestone of 1.33 crore vaccinations … and we are moving ahead continuously.” He added in the same tweet, “I hope we will make a new record of vaccination today and will present it like a gift to the PM.”

The Union health ministry aims to set a Covid-19 vaccination record on Friday to mark the 71st birthday of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The BJP has planned a 20-day event called “Seva and Samarpan Abhiyan” to mark Modi’s 20 years in public service.

On Thursday, Mandaviya called for a major push to the Covid-19 vaccination drive during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s birthday on Friday, saying it would be the perfect gift for him. He also called on people who have not taken the vaccine till now to get inoculated.

Talking about the ongoing mass vaccination drive against Covid-19, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan on Thursday said that 20 per cent of India’s adult population have received both doses of Covid-19 vaccine, while 62 per cent have got at least one dose of vaccine. He added that total 34 districts in India are still reporting weekly positivity rate of over 10 per cent, while 32 districts are reporting between 5-10 per cent weekly positive rate.

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Congress screening committee for UP polls announced





 Congress President Sonia Gandhi has constituted a screening committee for the upcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.

The committee has three members and others who are ex-officio members.

The members are Jitendra Singh (chairman) , Deepender Hooda and Vaishali Gaikwad.

The ex-officio members are General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, state Congress President Ajay Kumar Lallu, Congress Legislature Party leader Aradhana Mishra and all AICC secretaries in charge of Uttar Pradesh.

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Delhi CM bans firecrackers on Diwali to fight pollution





 In a move to fight pollution, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday announced a complete ban on the storage, sale and usage of firecrackers for the third year in a row.

“In view of the dangerous level of pollution during Diwali in Delhi witnessed in the last three years, we are again imposing a complete ban on the storage, sale and usage of any kind of firecracker to save people’s lives,” Kejriwal tweeted, appealing traders to avoid buying or keeping stocks of crackers this year.

The decision has been made keeping Delhi traders in mind as last year the same announcement at the eleventh hour had left many sellers in confusion for they had already purchased huge stocks weeks ahead of the festival.

With the onset of winter, the capital starts gasping for fresh air as pollution level due to burning of crop-residue in the neighbouring states of UP, Punjab and Haryana starts during the same time. Bursting of firecrackers adds to the problem, leaving the air highly toxic and its citizens with severe breathing problems for at least a week.

Only recently, the chief minister, citing a WAPCOS report, urged the central government to encourage farmers in Uttar Pradesh, Punjab and Haryana to use a Pusa-made bio-decomposer which will resolve the issue of stubble-burning by proving a greener and better alternative to get rid of crop residue.

Other than that, the Delhi government is also working on a Winter Action Plan. All the departments from environment to transport to MCDs have been asked to come up with a plan by September 21 so that a conclusion can be reached by this month end.

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