The government’s occasional argument for the scarcity of funds, seems notional and of convenience. Citizens of AP must demand from the government to disclose the costs incurred till date by the G.N. Rao Committee.
On 13 September 2019, an expert committee was formed by the Government of Andhra Pradesh vide its G.O.Rt.No.585, MA&UD(CRDA) Department. Members of this expert committee included illustrious academics, urban planners and were convened under the aegis of Shri G. Nageshwar Rao, a retired bureaucrat. Henceforth, the committee was popularized as the G.N. Rao Committee.
Almost a month later, another GO was released by the Municipal Administration and Urban Development department elaborating the powers, functions and duties of the committee in great detail. The most notable point here was a deadline of six weeks since the first meeting of the committee. It is perhaps this urgency that made the committee rely heavily on the Sivaramakrishnan Expert Committee appointed by the Ministry of Home Affairs in 2014. Interestingly, the Sivaramakrishnan Committee itself was given a six-month tenure. The G.N. Rao committee’s term of six weeks in contrast with this indicates the YSRCP government’s hurry to document what had already been decided.
Further, acting on a letter sent by G.N. Rao to the government, the government appointed Brig. Dr P. Raj Kumar as a management consultant to the committee at a remuneration of Rs. 1,50,000 per month in addition to the hotel allowance of up to Rs. 4,000 a day, related travel arrangements and a dearness allowance (DA) of Rs. 2,000 per diem. The relevant government order GO. Rt. No. 694 dated 06 November 2019 was issued almost one month after the head of the Expert Committee wrote a letter demanding the same.
After using taxpayers money to fund the namesake committee, the government decided to project an unbiased approach by roping in private players in the process. As a result, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) was tasked with recommending a “Strategy for Balanced and Inclusive Growth in Andhra Pradesh.” As it turns out, the BCG declared Amaravati unfit for being the State’s capital. This study was done at a projected cost of Rs. 7.021 crore. Eventually, BCG was paid a total amount of Rs. 3.51 crore for completion of deliverables of phase-1 of the project.
This was not the end of the conundrum. Another committee was constituted vide GO. Ms No. 159 of which various bureaucrats, ministers and other government functionaries were a part of. This “High Power Committee” was given three weeks to recommend after reviewing the Rao Committee and the BCG’s reports. A state mired with problems of its own decided to bear operational and opportunity cost by bringing in the Director General of Police, various other bureaucrats, ministers of crucial departments like finance, industries, education among many others. With no realization of the costs already borne by the exchequer, the State went to spend more and more money on its inconceivable plans.
The government has spent about four crores on this endeavor (considering the remuneration of the G.N. Rao-led has not been made public). This excludes the incalculable costs that have led to the digression of priorities of public servants.
The people of Andhra Pradesh need to know where their money is going. The government’s occasional argument for the scarcity of funds, seems notional and of convenience. Citizens of AP must demand from the government to disclose the costs incurred till date by the G.N. Rao Committee. The government must disclose the details of what entails Phase one and Phase two of the BCG’s deliverables and the various other administrative and operational costs borne by the State, convening the High Power Committee of ministers and bureaucrats.