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Special Category Status to Seemandhra to help in the development of rural regions: Analysts
The Planning Commission of India has told the Central government that Seemandhra (the residual Andhra Pradesh) cannot be accorded Special Category Status (SCS), the status that could have provided the state an extra central aid under the current norms.

This development is significant as earlier the UPA govt led by Manmohan Singh had directed the planning commission to implement the decision to grant special category status to 13 districts of Seemandhra. But now the same Planning Commission, is saying that the state does not meet the criteria laid down by National Development Council (NDC) for special category status.

Earlier Congress chief Sonia Gandhi had also written a letter to the PM Narendra Modi to accord special status to Seemandhra.

After the red signal by the Planning Commission, BJP could be in an embarrassing situation as in April 2014, the present Union minister for Urban Development Venkaiah Naidu had said that if voted to power, the Modi- led government would accord special status to Seemandhra for ten years, unlike the five year promise made by the UPA govt.

Does Seemandhara really require a special category status? One may ask this question at this juncture when so many crucial developments on the issue are taking place and so much politics is being played on it.

Krishna Prasad, a Political Science professor at Andhra University, feels that the major problem with Seemandhra is the migration of people from rural areas to the urban areas, and to eradicate this, decentralization of industries is needed, which can only happen if the state has a special status.

“They have carved a new state, but now they have to show the source of income too. And without augmenting the resources of a state, one cannot really run the state. So, the special status will help in establishing the industries, will attract the entrepreneurs in rural areas and will help in kind of industrial development. As a result the rural people migration can be restricted and the state government can have additional income,” said Prasad.

He added, “The special Category status will bring tax exemption benefits, which will attract the entrepreneurs and other industrialists. The major problem of the Seemandhra area is that most of the people belong to rural areas and they migrate to the cities, now the challenge is to stop the migration, unless you decentralize the industries the people of the rural areas will keep on migrating. And if this continues the income of the state cannot be increased.”

MV Maysoora Reddy, a YSR Congress Party leader and a former Member of Parliament while explaining the benefits of special category status to a state, said, “Once any state gets this special category status, they will get some tax incentives like Centre interest subsidy, comprehensive insurance subsidy, 100 per cent exemption of central excise duty, 100 per cent exemption in Income Tax etc., all this will help in promoting industries so that local employment will be there.”

Reddy demands National Development Council to revise its norms to accommodate Seemandhara in the list 11 states that have already got special category status.

He says “NDC has to revise their guidelines to fit Andhra into its norms. This promise was made by the former Prime Minister of India and was supported by the present government which was in the opposition at that time, so its a commitment given by the government. Now we have to wait and see, if the government of India keep its promise or not.”

The basic criteria considered by NDC to provide special status to a state are: a state should have hilly and difficult terrain; low population density and or sizeable share of tribal population; strategic location along borders with neighbouring countries; economic and infrastructure backwardness and non-viable nature of state finances.

Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu is trying his best to bring the special status to the state and has also met the Prime Minister Narendra Modi and a host of Cabinet ministers in this regards on last Friday. Getting the special status to the state is now the major challenge in before Naidu as after bifurcation, Seemandhra is expected to face resource constraint as Hyderabad is now a part of Telangana.

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