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Reddy orders free power to AP farmers, waives dues

BS Regional Bureau in Hyderabad | May 15, 2004 12:23 IST

Amidst a rousing applause from the vast gathering of people and Congressmen, YS Rajasekhara Reddy yesterday took oath as the new chief minister of Andhra Pradesh. He was administered the oath of office by Governor Surjit Singh Barnala.

As promised by him in the last two elections, Reddy signed the first file on free power for farmers at the venue itself before a 40,000-strong cheering crowd.

He also wrote off power bill arrears due from farmers. The waiver of arrears will cause a one-time burden of Rs 1,192 crore (RS 11.92 billion) on the government, while the free power promise will incur an additional annual revenue loss of Rs 436 crore (Rs 4.36 billion).

The chief minister declared that Andhra Pradesh would see no more suicides by farmers and weavers as his government would dedicate itself to solving the problems faced by them.

Reddy said his government would soon come out with a compensation package to the families of farmers and weavers who committed suicide. A similar package had earlier been announced by the Karnataka government.

Reddy said the people of the state that he would provide a transparent, people-friendly and would give an honest administration in the next five years.

"No farmer should ever think of committing suicide. We are here to address all your problems. This government lives and breathes with you. We shall build all the irrigation projects on a war- footing. We will sincerely try for artificial rains in districts like Anantapur, which have been on the path of desertification," he said.

He also announced that the "Janata Vastra" scheme would be revived for the benefit of weavers. He also promised to fill up all the vacancies in the government departments.

Utter chaos marked the otherwise grand show of the swearing-in ceremony that witnessed an over-packed dais, near stampede situation with over-flooding public from all sides and traffic jams on the roads leading to the venue. Congress supporters came in huge numbers from all over the state to witness the swearing-in.

Reddy said he was overwhelmed by the support given by the people of the state.

"We will live up to your expectations on the strength of your own trust reposed in the Congress. You have not only given a new lease of life to the Congress in the state but you are also instrumental in the Congress getting the status of the single largest party at the national level. We will always be grateful for that," he said to a cheering crowd.

Later, the chief minister held a meeting of senior officials at Lake View guesthouse on the state's financial position, seasonal conditions and the status of irrigation projects.

Though he was scheduled to visit the secretariat later in the day, it was postponed to Saturday.

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