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Andhra Pradesh’s former ruling party TDP and the recently elected YSR Congress have been protesting vehemently against the center for the grant of Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh. The state was bifurcated into Telangana and Andhra Pradesh in 2014. Special Category Status was promised verbally by the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. The NDA government that came into power afterwards, and also promised the same but did not live up to it completely.
What is Special Category Status :-
There is no provision of SCS in the constitution. But, in order to help states which have historically disadvantaged, the center had come up with SCS. It was granted by the National Development Council. The NDC granted this status based on a number of features of the States which included:
- hilly and difficult terrain
- low population density or the presence of sizeable tribal population
- strategic location along international borders
- economic and infrastructural backwardness
- non-viable nature of State finances
Several concessions and benefits come along with the grant of SCS which cannot be discussed here as it would make this article too long.
The 14th Finance Commission did away with the practice of granting of SCS status to new states.
Views of the protesting parties :-
The protesting parties claim that due to Telangana getting the former capital of AP i.e. Hyderabad, the state has suffered huge losses in its revenue and needs help from the center in order to make up for it. And also to build the new capital, huge investment is needed.
- The granting of SCS has already been done away with as suggested by the 14th Finance Commission. Instead, the center has promised to honor its commitments by granting monetary equivalents of the SCS.
- Andhra Pradesh is also not fully eligible to be granted the SCS. It does not fulfill any of the criteria mentioned above.
- AP has grown faster than Telangana since the bifurcation. The avg annual growth rate for 2013-2014 and 2017-2018 for AP and Telangana are 9.9% and 8.6% respectively. Several other indexes also indicate that AP has been performing better than Telangana.
- AP needs huge investment to build its new capital, and hence it needs central government’s support.
As there are demands from several states for granting special category status to their states, special committee is needed to look into their demands and to grant the status only to the deserving states.
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