The war of words between the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) and the BJP at the Centre has intensified with Andhra Pradesh on Monday releasing documents rebutting BJP President Amit Shah’s claims over non-utilisation of funds given by the Centre. In his letter to AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, on March 23, Shah accused the state of utilising only 12 per cent of the Rs 1,050 crore given as special development assistance fund to the seven backward districts. “As regards the special developmental assistance to the seven backward districts, the Central Government has released development grants to the tune of Rs 1.050 crores in the first three years. Surprisingly, the state has spent only 12 per cent of this amount and 88 per cent remains unutilised,” Shah stated in his letter.
Rejecting this claim, the AP government on Monday released a letter written by the Chief Secretary to the advisor to Niti Aayog, Ashok Jain, on January 31, informing that of the Rs 1,050 crore released by the Centre, Rs 946.47 crore was spent and utilization certificates (UCs) for the same have also been furnished. “It is informed that utilization certificates have been furnished by Government of AP for a total amount of Rs 893.16 crores against total Government of India releases of Rs 1050 crores under Special Development Package. This includes UCs submitted for an amount of Rs 123.08 crores as third spell. UCs for an additional Rs 53.31 crores are furnished herewith as fourth 4th spell, thus making the total amount for which UCs furnished as Rs 946.47 crore. Niti Aayog had communicated certain deviations as pointed out by the Department of Expenditure, Ministry of Finance, and sought clarification. In response to this, the pointwise remarks/clarifications for all the points raised along with the 4th spell UCs are herewith furnished with a request to release the next installment for 2017-18 so as to complete the ongoing works faster,” stated the letter from CS Dinesh Kumar.
“This is a befitting reply to the false propaganda of BJP and Amit Shah to defame CM Naidu and belittle the demands of AP people. This exposes the BJP because against their claim that only 12 per cent of Rs 1,050 crores funds was utilized, we have utilized Rs 946.47 crores,” TDP MP from Srikakulam K Ram Mohan Naidu said.
In the AP Reorganisation Act, 2014, seven districts—Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam in north Coastal and Andhra Pradesh, and Chittoor, YSR Kadapa, Kurnool and Anantapur in Rayalaseema region—were identified as backward districts and a special fund of Rs 50 crore to each district per year was allocated. For the three financial years from 2014 to 2017, Rs 150 crore to each district has been allocated amounting to a total of Rs 1,050 crores.
According to the AP Government’s report submitted to Niti Aayog, of the Rs 150 crore released to Srikakulam in three years, Rs 135.15 crores had been spent till January 31, 2108. In Vizianagaram, Rs 134.74 crores was spent; Visakhapatnam Rs 135.46 crores spent; Chittoor Rs 134.90 crores spent; YSR Kadapa Rs 137.08 crores; Anantapur Rs 124.59 crores spent; and Kurnool Rs 144.55 crores spent. Officials said that of the Rs 1,050 crores released by the Centre, only 103.53 crores remains available as of January 31, 2018. “Most of the works planned in these seven backward districts for the last three years have either been completed or under progress. The grant of Rs 350 crores for 2017-18 for the seven districts is shortly expected from the Centre,” a Planning Department official said.