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CM hints at reducing power tariff

By Our Special Correspondent

HYDERABAD, JUNE 5. After free power and waiver of electricity dues to farmers, the Chief Minister, Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, today hinted at reducing the power tariff for domestic and industrial sectors, and said the private medical college managements had been prevailed upon to reduce the annual fee from Rs. 55,000 to Rs.30,000 for "A" category students. He also made it clear that his Government favoured review of the Formula One car race project.

In a two-hour long spirited reply to the debate on motion of thanks to the Governor's address in the Assembly, which was more like a policy outline of his Government towards different sections of people, Dr. Reddy said his promise of extending free power supply to single bulb households would take two or three months for implementation. All out efforts would be made to increase per hectare agriculture productivity for paddy from 2,800 kg to 4000 kg in five years. The APSRTC, now in red, would be turned into a profit- making corporation.

He said closed industries would be revived besides improving employment opportunities for women (which got reduced from 2.7 per cent to 0.3 per cent) and launching of a medical insurance with coverage up to Rs. 30,000, for poor farmers. He would talk to the Reliance Industries group and request them to use the natural gas in Andhra Pradesh itself by locating a project in the State, instead of carrying it all the way to Uttar Pradesh for the 3000 MW power plant they were planning to set up there.

Dr. Reddy said the previous Government was planning to spend Rs. 1000 crores over seven years on Formula One project for an event to be held for three to seven days in a year. "We are not in a position to spend on such projects and we will definitely review it."

He said steps would be taken to withdraw cases booked against political leaders and those who participated in the agitation against power tariff hike. They did not spare even the CPI leader, Survararam Sudhakar Reddy.

The Chief Minister said agriculture and development of backward areas in Telangana, Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra would be accorded top priority.

It was for this reason that the pending irrigation projects would be completed mobilising resources through innovative approaches. The

e-governance and optic fibre projects would be used for improving connectivity in the urban and rural areas. "In every breath and heart beat, we will think of welfare of the poor and the common man."

Taking a dig at the previous Telugu Desam Government, he charged it with destroying the State's economy. Despite raising a whopping Rs. 1,66,667 crores as tax revenue during 1994-2004, registering the highest growth rate in the country, the State suffered a huge cumulative revenue deficit of Rs. 22,156 crores.

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