Andhra-Telangana dispute: Centre to seek legal opinion on division of institutions

Hyderabad, Sep 27 (IANS) The Union Home Ministry will take legal opinion on the recommendations of Sheela Bhide committee over division of institutions listed in the Schedule IX of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 between Andhra Pradesh and Telangana.

The ministry on Tuesday conducted a meeting of top officials of both the states in New Delhi to discuss pending bilateral issues.

Chief Secretaries of both the Telugu states and other senior officials attended the meeting chaired by Union Home Secretary Ajay Kumar Bhalla.

Andhra Pradesh officials demanded that Sheela Bhide committee recommendations be accepted in full but Telangana brought to the notice of the ministry that there are court cases pending in High Court of Telangana with respect to certain institutions and till the matter is settled by the court, no further action can be taken.

There are 91 institutions listed in Schedule IX which are to be divided. The committee has given its recommendations with respect to 90 institutions. The dispute resolution subcommittee constituted by the MHA has suggested the division in 3 phases – 53 PSUs where there is no difference of opinion, 15 PSUs which are agreeable to Telangana but not to Andhra Pradesh, and 22 institutions which are not agreeable to Telangana.

The court cases are also with respect to the definition of headquarters. The MHA had clarified in May 2017 that where the principal office building is located would be considered as the headquarter.

Telangana had requested the MHA to reconstitute a Board of the AP State Finance Corporation in May 2016 itself but this has not been done. The then Board of AP State Finance Corporation has prepared a bifurcation plan unilaterally and sent to the Centre for their approval. In this case also, Andhra Pradesh has approached the High Court against the resumption of 238 acres of land in Rangareddy district. The High Court issued a status quo order in November, 2015 and the matter is still pending.

Andhra Pradesh wanted that keeping the land issue separate, and the balance of issues related to bifurcation can be taken up by the Centre, but Telangana has objected to this as the issue involved in this case is also definition of headquarters and whether the lands in dispute would be considered as a part of headquarter asset or not.

There are 142 institutions which are listed under Schedule X of the Act.

Based on the judgment of the Supreme Court in the case of AP State Council of Higher Education, the Centre had issued a speaking order that the cash balances would be divided on population ratio and assets on location basis. Telangana is fully in agreement with this but Andhra Pradesh filed a writ petition in the High Court and the matter is still pending. Andhra Pradesh wants that the Schedule X institutions assets also to be divided in population ratio instead of location.

Telangana has also filed a case in the matter of Telugu Academy bifurcation. While the cases are still pending, Telangana’s view is that the MHA order is based on the Supreme Court directions and hence no further review of the matter is needed and any such review by the MHA was strongly protested by it.

Andhra Pradesh raised the issue that Singareni Collieries Company Ltd (SCCL) is to be bifurcated as they have assets in the successor state but Telangana has strongly objected and said that the question of division does not arise as there is a specific provision in the Act transferring the 51 per cent of equity to Telangana completely.

Similarly, the Andhra Pradesh Heavy Machinery Engineering Ltd (APHMEL) is only a subsidiary company of SCCL and the only division which is to be done is that of equity of the then Andhra Pradesh. The Home Secretary gave directions to MHA to examine the matter.

The dispute between Telangana and Andhra Pradesh over electricity dues did not come up for discussion.

The Centre recently wrote to Telangana government to clear electricity dues of Rs 6,000 crore to Andhra Pradesh before the end of September. However, Telangana claimed that it is Andhra Pradesh which owes it Rs 17,000 crore and has demanded the Centre to ask Andhra Pradesh to clear the dues after adjusting Rs 6,000 crore being claimed by the neighbouring state.

Besides the inter-state issues, the meeting also discussed certain matters relating to Andhra Pradesh. The Andhra Pradesh government sought another Rs 1,000 crore for capital city development but the Centre asked it to submit details of how Rs 1,500 crore already provided for the purpose was used.

The Ministry of Home Affairs also did not respond to Andhra Pradesh’s request for Rs 29,000 crore for the capital city in accordance with the recommendation of the Sivaramakrishnan committee.

The Andhra Pradesh government also sought funds for seven backward districts but the Centre informed it that the decision was taken to provide funds for five years.

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