Hyderabad: The monsoon session of the Telangana State Legislature was as much historic as it was unprecedented. It was historic because of the sweeping reforms that the TRS government has brought in in two key areas – land administration and building construction – with the unanimous passage of four Revenue Bills and the TSbPASS Bill.
The session was unprecedented in that it saw the emergence of Covid-triggered ‘new normal’ in the procedures that included ‘masked’ legislators, physical distancing, frequent sanitisation of the premises, restricted entry and of course, the mandatory testing for coronavirus.
The session began on September 7 and was originally scheduled to continue till September 28, but with the threat of Covid looming large amid the large gathering of legislators, officials, support staff and the media, it was decided to cut short the proceedings and both Houses were adjourned sine die on Wednesday.
But, by then, most of the important businesses on the agenda including important Bills and discussions on matters of public importance had been gone through, besides adopting two resolutions, one seeking Bharat Ratna to be conferred posthumously on former Prime Minister P V Narasimha Rao and the other conveying the State’s unequivocal opposition to the draconian Electricity Amendment Act likely to be introduced by the Centre during the ongoing monsoon session of Parliament.
Both the new Revenue and TSbPASS Bills that will now be sent to the Governor for her assent are major milestones in the TRS government’s constant push for transparency in administration, digitization of records and all out efforts to weed out graft in what are perceived to be traditionally corrupt areas. While the revenue reforms will essentially benefit the rural poor, particularly the farmers, the TSbPASS should come as a major relief to the urban poor, especially those who intend to construct their own houses on small plots.
By abolishing the Village Revenue Officers system – one of the major revenue reforms – the government has struck at the very root of the social evil that would, in the words of Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao, bring a lot of cheer and hope to the poor, particularly the farmers in rural Telangana.
Even in doing so, the Chief Minister, compassionate as he is, was not dismissive about the future of the VROs and the VRAs, when he announced that they would be absorbed in other departments based on their qualifications and after undergoing some basic training.
Chandrashekhar Rao also rightly pointed out to the larger picture of the exercise undertaken by the State government when the Opposition attempted to rake up the issue of land scams and encroachments when he said the first priority of the administration was to secure and protect the 96 per cent of lands in the State which had clear titles. “Once these lands are protected, the government will take up the other issues,” he said firmly.
The Chief Minister sent a clear message that he meant business when he categorically stated that the new Revenue Act was only the first step towards ushering revenue reforms in the State. “Providing conclusive titles to land owners may put an end to land disputes in the State, but we still have a long way to go to establish complete reforms which will require enactment of some more laws and abolition of others,” he said during the discussion on the Bills.
The Revenue and TSbPASS Bills are only the latest in the series of reforms brought in by the TRS government in the past six years to accelerate the State on the path of development leading to its ultimate goal of achieving ‘Bangaru Telangana.’
Among the major reforms initiatives earlier are TSiPASS, reorganization of districts, drastic changes in the Irrigation department that also involved bringing various wings under one umbrella and the introduction of market demand-based regulated farming in the agriculture sector.
The State Legislature also adopted a unanimous resolution demanding the Centre to confer the highest civilian award in the country on Narasimha Rao during his birth centenary year. The State government has already begun the year-long celebrations in honour of the “Telangana Bidda’ and is of the firm stand that nothing short of Bharat Ratna would befit the services he had rendered to the country.
Last but not the least was the adoption of a resolution expressing Telangana’s strong resentment to the proposed amendment to the Electricity Act of 2003, by the BJP government at the Centre. Describing it as a dangerous move, Chandrashekhar Rao said it will sound the death knell for farmers in a progressive State like Telangana.
All the pro-farmers initiatives taken by the State government including 24×7 free and quality power supply that had brought back the smiles on the faces of farmers in the State after suffering decades of neglect and humiliation would come to a nought if the Centre is allowed to have its way.
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