Congress accepts KTR’s challenge for debate on city’s development

Stating that the previous Congress regime had spent over Rs. 1 lakh crore for the development of Greater Hyderabad from 2004-2014, Leader of Opposition in Telangana Legislative Council Mohammed Ali Shabbir accepted the challenge posed by Panchayat Raj Minister K. Tarakarama Rao for a debate on city’s development.

Addressing a press conference at Gandhi Bhavan here on Tuesday, Shabbir Ali listed out various schemes implemented from 2004-2014 by the then Congress Government. They included Rajiv Gandhi International Airport (Rs 2,478 Cr); Nehru Outer Ring Road (Rs 6,696 Cr); PVNR Expressway (Rs 600 Cr); Old City Special Package          (Rs 2,000 Cr) and Hyderabad Metro Rail Project (Rs 14,500 Cr). He said while Krishna Phase-I was launched in 1994 during the reign of the then Chief Minister Kotla Vijayabhaskar Reddy at a cost of Rs. 1,000 Cr, Phase-II (Rs. 606.50 Cr) and Phase III (Rs. 1650 Cr) were initiated in 2006 and 2013 respectively. Similarly, Godavari Drinking water scheme for Hyderabad was launched in December 2008 at a cost of Rs. 3,725 crore. “As the then Hyderabad Incharge Minister, I laid the foundation stone for several developmental projects. But now KTR is trying to give an impression as if those projects were launched and completed during 18-month rule of TRS,” he said.

While IT exports grew from Rs. 5,025 Cr in 2003-04 to Rs. 57,000 Cr in 2013-14, IT jobs increased from 85,945 to 323,691 during a decade of Congress rule. As many as 12 Special Economic Zones around Hyderabad are now operational.

Similarly, the Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad (MCH) was transformed into Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) on April 16, 2007, by merging 12 Municipalities and 8 Gram Panchayats. This gave a major boost to civic body’s funds for development. While MCH had an annual budget of Rs. 680.69 Cr in 2004-05, the GHMC’s budget for 2014-15 was Rs. 5,599 crore.

Shabbir Ali said TRS Government began its journey with a negative note by demolishing some structures in Ayyappa Society to terrorise people who hailed from Seemandhra region. “Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao and other TRS leaders gave slogans like ‘Jago’ and ‘Bhago’ to terrrorise them. However, in view of GHMC elections, KCR has renewed his friendship with Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu and both are trying to end differences while eating prawns. What happened to KCR’s promised action against Naidu in ‘Cash for Vote’ case? Where has Telangana’s self-respect gone now?” he asked.

The Congress leader said that the TRS Government has delayed the Hyderabad Metro Rail project by 18 months while objecting to its route. “KCR took a U-turn after causing financial losses of nearly Rs. 2100 crore. His son KTR has described Metro Rail as World Class after enjoying its test run recently. What prompted KCR to first object to the route and then what convinced him to accept that the original design was perfect? Why public money should be spent to entertain KCR or KTR’s lack of wisdom in understanding a project?” he said.

Shabbir Ali also asked KTR to answer whether TRS Government fulfilled a single major promise that was made in the election manifesto. They include restoration of Musi River, cleaning of Hussainsagar, Signal Free City, new airport, shifting of Chanchalguda Jail and Race Course. He said instead of doing introspection on non-implementation of promises made in the manifesto, KTR is wrongly questioning the Congress party. “I’m ready for an open debate. Ideally, the debate should be held in Mahindra Hills where KCR laid the foundation for Christian Bhavan exactly a year ago. We will cut Christmas Cake and begin debate,” he said.

The debate can also be held at Road No. 10, Banjara Hills, where KCR laid foundation stones for construction of Banjara Bhavan, Adivasi Bhavan and Babu Jagjivanram Bhavan last year. No development took place at these locations during the last one year, he said.

The Congress leader said it was ridiculous on the part of KTR to challenge the Congress party from the dais where Dharampuri Srinivas was seated. “DS had served as PCC President for two terms and if Congress Governments are to be blamed for non-performance, then DS shares the major blame. If DS was inefficient in Congress, then how come he became efficient after joining Congress party. He must be ashamed of himself for criticising the Congress party. Further, KTR should also hold MIM, the present ally of TRS, as responsible for lack of development. Congress gave MIM complete control over GHMC Standing Committee and it held the Mayor’s post till 2014. Congress should not be blamed for non-development of areas which were represented by the MIM,” he said.

Greater Hyderabad Congress Committee (Minorities Department) Chairman Shaik Abdullah Sohail was also present during the press conference. (INN)