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Quid pro quo? AP Govt restores mining lease to Jagan-related Company

In a surprising move, the Andhra Pradesh government has restored the mining lease of Saraswati Power Industries Limited, a company which was earlier linked to Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy. 


 

The lease for mining limestone in Guntur district was cancelled by former Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu in October 2014 after the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. The lease was originally allotted to Saraswati Power Industries Limited by the Congress government under Y.S. Rajashekara Reddy to mine limestone in 613 hectares in three villages of Vemavaram, Tangeda and Chennaipalem villages in Guntur district. Claiming that it was a ‘suitcase company’ of Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, Naidu had cancelled the lease.
 

Jella Jagan Mohan Reddy, one of the directors of Saraswati Power Industries Limited, is also a director in Bharathi Cement Corporation Pvt Ltd, Bharathi Power Corporation Pvt Ltd, and YSR Foundation. Y.S. Bharathi, the wife of Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, is a director in Bharathi Cements. Recently, the government restored the lease of Saraswati Power Industries Limited.
 
Minister for Mines and Geology, Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy informed that the restoration of the contract to Saraswati Power Industries Limited was done as per the established norms. “The Opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is unnecessarily raising a hue and cry. The State government has acted as per the guidelines of Mines & Minerals Development and Regulation (MMDR) Act under section 8A(3), and done as per the orders given by the High Court of Andhra Pradesh on December 12, 2019,’’ he said.
 
He said that Chandrababu Naidu was unnecessarily creating a controversy over restoring lease of the company by tagging the Chief Minister. “In united AP, the government gave 613 hectares of land for Saraswati Powers for limestone mining but due to political reasons, during TDP rule in 2014, Chandrababu Naidu cancelled the lease. The company approached the court, which ordered the state government on December 12, 2019 to restore the lease,” he added, speaking to reporters.  
 
Following court orders, the State government restored the lease and extended to 50 years as per the MMDR Act. However, several voices are rising against this issue of restoring the lease as Jagan had been prime accused in misappropriation of funds and his companies have been under the CBI lens. 
 
According to sources, the government is well aware of the controversies this lease would create. Yet, it is willing to see “who opposes anything the CM says or decides,” said a leader who did not want to be identified. Political voices from the state also indicate that this is the beginning of what could be a massive “systematic loot of public wealth” which had happened under Y.S. Rajasekhar Reddy under a united AP. 
 
It is to be seen how lands and mining leases will be handled from here on by the Jagan-led government.

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