This summer, the people of Andhra Pradesh gave YS Jaganmohan Reddy an overwhelming mandate, believing his promise that he would reconstruct the state, having lost out as a result of bifurcation. But if several Government Orders issued between June and October 2019 are anything to go by, the chief minister and his security paraphernalia seems more focused on constructing his house in Tadepalli in Andhra Pradesh. No different from what Chandrababu Naidu did during his tenure as chief minister.
Sample the amounts that have been spent by the state on the chief minister’s residence (he moved into this brand new home in early 2019) and the office premises that is now a part of it. While a road was laid for Rs 5 crore, the bill for electrical works came to a whopping Rs 3.6 crore. An amount of Rs 1.89 crore was spent to build a helipad and other security arrangements while Rs 3.25 crore was spent to acquire extra land for construction of view cutter.
The defence would be that most of this expenditure has been incurred on the advice of the security establishment to keep the CM safe.
Aluminium doors and windows worth Rs 73 lakh have been installed at the home-cum-office, according to GO 259. One wonders what is the quality of this aluminium that it has to cost a bomb.
Rs 82 lakh was sanctioned to construct a praja darbar. The mercy here is that it cost much less than the Rs 8.9 crore Chandrababu Naidu spent on constructing a Praja Vedika next to his residence in Undavalli for the same purpose of meeting people and holding meetings. That Praja Vedika was demolished in June by the Jagan government this year because it was built in violation of environmental laws.
But while the state has no qualms about splurging on the chief minister’s residence and camp office, it has refused to clear bills of vendors who carried out various assignments during the Naidu rule. Hundreds of businessmen and corporates have been making trips to the State Secretariat, hoping to get their bills cleared for genuine work done but the government has its standard excuse ready – No funds.
Not that the Naidu regime was any better. In the former CM’s case, the state was spending on sprucing up and maintaining several camp offices in both Hyderabad and Vijayawada. According to this report in 2016, the government had spent Rs 80 crore just on Naidu’s different offices and he did not even use the ones in Hyderabad once he moved out.
Even more shocking was how the cash-strapped state was forced to spend Rs 10 crore transporting people and arranging for the one-day protest deeksha in New Delhi against the NDA government for not granting Special Category Status to Andhra Pradesh on 11 February 2019. This was more of a TDP political exercise camouflaged as an Andhra Pradesh protest.
In neighbouring Telangana, K Chandrasekhar Rao built the palatial residence-cum-office (pic above) for the chief minister in Hyderabad in 2016 at a cost of Rs 38 crore though the opposition has consistently alleged that the expenditure was ten times that amount.