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AP's F1 bid causes furore in assembly

By Syed Amin Jafri in Hyderabad
September 30, 2003 22:38 IST

The Andhra Pradesh government's efforts to bring Formula One racing to the state resulted in an uproar in the legislative assembly today, with the opposition accusing the ruling Telugu Desam Party of pursuing wrong priorities.

Trouble erupted during Question Hour when members of the Congress and the Majlis-e-Ittehaadul Muslimeen accused Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu of promoting bars, discos and casinos, ignoring labour-intensive industries and agriculture.

The Congress attack invited loud protests from the treasury benches. The chief minister also accused the Congress and other opposition parties of politicising the issue and obstructing the government's efforts to attract prestigious projects.

Leader of the Opposition Y S Rajasekhar Reddy in turn accused the government of trying to attract projects only to Rangareddy district, where Naidu and Home Minister T Devender Goud allegedly own large plots of land.

Rajasekhar Reddy and MIM floor leader Asaduddin Owaisi asked the chief minister to spell out the subsidies in cash and kind promised by the government for the Formula One project, and the names of the private developers who will set it up.

Naidu said only preliminary discussions had been held with Formula One bosses and Hyderabad is at the forefront

for a new race track. Maharashtra and Karnataka too, he said, are going all out to woo Formula One. The governments of these states, he claimed, are ready to provide hefty subsidies for the project. "We shall not miss out in this race," he quipped.

He said the government would provide the land for the project, but refused to spell out the cost of the land and the subsidies and incentives required in cash and kind.

He claimed that the Formula One project would bring in a lot of economic benefits and accelerate developmental activities in the area. "Formula One is the second most favourite sport among the youth," he said, and pointed out that a Grand Prix event would require 700 flights to bring spectators and participants. About 200 jumbo jets would be required to ferry the equipment for the race.

Earlier, Major Industries Minister K Vidyadhar Rao told the assembly that initial discussions were held with Formula One promoter Bernie Ecclestone and other officials when Naidu was in Italy to witness the Grand Prix at Monza earlier this month.

Vidyadhar Rao said a Formula One race track and allied infrastructure and facilities would require 1,300 acres of land on the outskirts of Hyderabad. The cost for setting up the race track alone would be around Rs 600 crore [approximately US $131 million].

Syed Amin Jafri in Hyderabad