AP govt committed to welfare of SC/STs: Kiran Reddy

Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy on Tuesday said the state government was totally committed to the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Responding to an issue raised in the state Assembly, the Chief Minister said the government was making efforts to spend 16.23 per cent of the total budget towards SC and ST welfare.

"We spent nine per cent of the budget in 2009-10 and 12 per cent in 2010-11 on SC and ST through the sub-plans. We are making efforts to enhance it to 16.23 per cent," he said.

The SC and ST welfare issue was raised by CPI and CPM in the House through an adjournment today, in the backdrop of an indefinite hunger-strike launched by CPM politburo member B V Raghavulu six days ago.

The Left MLAs stalled the proceedings demanding an immediate statement from the Chief Minister on the issue. Officiating Speaker Nadendla Manohar adjourned the proceedings for 15 minutes and held a meeting with floor leaders of all parties to discuss the issue.

At the meeting, the parties wanted the Chief Minister to make an appeal to the fasting leader to end the fast and accordingly the House re-assembled.

Making the appeal, Kiran said most of the demands raised by the CPM politburo member were already being implemented while some other were under consideration.

"We shall soon appoint a chairman to the SC and ST Commission and also constitute the Women's Commission. As much as 25 lakh acres of land in the state will be developed at a total cost of Rs 9,000 crore under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme in the next three years," he said.

The Chief Minister said the Congress "need not learn any lessons" from anyone on SC and ST welfare.

"The Congress is always committed to their welfare. There will be no compromise," he asserted.

Reacting to this, Leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu alleged that the funds meant for the welfare of SCs and STs were being diverted.

"Of the total Rs 7,470 crore allotted for SC and ST welfare, only Rs 3,600 crore was spent in the last seven years. The SC Finance Corporation is not in a position even to pay salaries to its staff," he pointed out.

He wanted the government to send a team of ministers to the fasting CPM leader and make him end the fast.

CPM MLA J Ranga Reddy, CPI floor leader G Mallesh, Lok Satta Party president N Jayaprakash Narayan, Praja Rajyam legislator Vanga Geeta also spoke.

Social Welfare Minister Pitani Satyanarayana said a high-level meeting would be convened on March 25 to discuss the implementation of SC and ST sub-plans.

Later, the TDP members were on their feet demanding that the government immediately constitute a Joint Legislature Committee to probe the land allotments in the last seven years.

Major Industries Minister J Geeta Reddy started reading out a statement on the issue but the TDP MLAs rushed to the Speaker's podium demanding nothing but a JLC.

Amidst the din, officiating Speaker Manohar adjourned the House for the day.