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63,000-cr. Appropriation Bill passed sans debate

Special Correspondent

Sripadasagar debate overshadows 43-day-long budget session



IN PROTEST MODE: N. Chandrababu Naidu and other TDP MLAs walking out of the Assembly on Tuesday, holding placards protesting against Monday's police firing at Gangavaram. — Photo: Satish H.

HYDERABAD: The Andhra Pradesh Assembly passed the crucial Appropriation Bill for Rs. 63,683 crores on Tuesday without any discussion climaxing a 43-day-long budget session, which was overshadowed by an acrimonious debate over the Sripadasagar project tenders.

In a virtual replay of the proceedings during the earlier part of the session, the House was adjourned amid uproarious scenes, but this time sine die. The Appropriation Bill was passed even as slogan-shouting TDP and CPI (M) members stalled proceedings for the second consecutive day over the police firing in Gangavaram. After two adjournments and a meeting of the floor leaders failed to restore order, Speaker K. R. Suresh Reddy put the Bill to voice vote.

This is only the second time in a decade that the Appropriation Bill was adopted without a debate. As a result of the political one-upmanship by the Congress and the TDP on the contentious issue of the Sripadasagar tenders, most of the listed agenda could not be taken up. Considering that each minute of the House is estimated to cost the exchequer Rs. 10,000, the expenditure on the session works out to Rs. 8.63 crores.

Apart from passing the bill to authorise the payments and appropriation of Rs. 63,683.35 crores from and out of the Consolidated Fund of the State for the financial year commencing April 1, 2006, the House also adopted two other financial bills. The three bills were passed in 10 minutes after the House met for the third time.

As soon as the House met on Tuesday, TDP and CPI (M) members were on their feet demanding that the officials responsible for the firing be suspended immediately. The Speaker disallowed the adjournment notices on the firing.

The TDP and CPI (M) members rushed to podium and did not relent in spite of repeated pleas to raise the issue during the debate on Appropriation Bill. The Speaker adjourned the House.

After the House resumed 55 minutes later, the TDP and the CPI (M) members, holding placards, again rushed into the well and squatted on the steps leading to the podium.

As pandemonium continued, the Speaker adjourned the House sine die.

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