Saturday, June 23, 2007

Lok Satta demands liquor shops along highways be shut down

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, Lok Satta Party's National Coordinator, has demanded that liquor shops along highways be shut down immediately.
While welcoming the Government move to prevent accidents by punishing drunken driving, Dr. Jayaprakash pointed out that liquor shops had been opened along highways merely to cater to vehicle users and remained open day and night. The Government claim that it would prevent drunken driving even as it facilitated drinking along highways was akin to putting the cart before the horse.

In a letter to Chief Minister Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, the Lok Satta leader also demanded that the Government close down illegal belt shops being run by licensed liquor dealers. The belt shops, unofficially estimated to number more than a lakh, were to be found in every village, ward and lane. "It is incredible that the shops can function without the knowledge of the Excise and Police Departments". Asserting that the belt shops were being run with the full knowledge and support of the Government, Dr. Jayaprakash added that otherwise they could not function even for a day. He wanted the Government to put an end to the practice of increasing its excise revenue by encouraging belt shops.

Dr. Jayaprakash pointed that nothing could be more atrocious than viewing liquor as a chief source of revenue for the Government. The liquor addition had already ruined 50 lakh families in the State as liquor flowed freely. He wanted the Government to restrict liquor consumption since total prohibition was a practical failure.

The Lok Satta ridiculed the Government claim that the State had witnessed a decline in the number of shops pointing out that the outlets had proliferated hundreds of more times than licensed shops in the shape of belt shops. Government statistics testified to the increase in sales year after year. While the previous Government turned liquor a source of revenue and facilitated belt shops, the present Government not only continued the policy but also doubled and trebled its revenues from liquor.

He wanted the Government to disclose the programmes and activities it had taken up to launch a campaign against drinking by utilizing ten per cent of excise revenue as promised. He wanted the Government to totally ban 'gudumba' and country liquor, and public drinking at liquor shops and launch a strong campaign against the drinking evil.

The Lok Satta, he informed the Chief Minister, would take up direct action from October 2 if belt shops were not closed by then. Meanwhile, it would collect information about belt shops and communicate it to the Government. The women's wing of the party would launch a Statewide campaign against drinking from August 15.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Dr. Jayaprakash Calls for Justice to Telangana

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, National Coordinator of the Lok Satta Party, today demanded that constitutional status be provided to regional development boards, the 610 GO be implemented in letter and spirit and that the next river water tribunal go into disparities in water allocation within different regions of the State. These issues should be sorted out whether Telanagana was going to be formed or not.

Addressing a media meet, Dr. Jayaprakash pointed out that regional development boards recently constituted did not enjoy any constitutional status of Article 371D of the Constitution. The Constitution should be amended to provide them constitutional status, powers and resources. In fact, the Telangana Regional Development Board could be entrusted with the implementation of Government Order No. 610.

Dr. Jayaprakash pointed out that neither the Congress nor the Telugu Desam Government had the political will to implement the G.O. issued as early as in 1985. The Congress was in power between 1989 and 1994 and again since 2004 while the Telugu Desam was in power during the other periods. The GO involved the repatriation of just 28000 of the 9.5 lakh Government employees from Telangana to Andhra.
Referring to regional disputes on the sharing of the Krishna and the Godavari river waters, Dr. Jayaprakash said the next river waters tribunal should go into allocation of waters among different regions within the State. Thanks to Sir Arthur Cotton, some coastal Andhra districts had benefited while Telangana and Rayalaseema did not get adequate waters. The Godavari and the Krishna should be treated as one basin since the Krishna waters cannot be diverted to the Rayalaseema region unless the Godavari waters are diverted into the Krishna basin downstream.

Dr. Jayaprakash called for a national debate on caste-based reservations in the context of the raging disputes between Malas and Madigas in Andhra Pradesh and Gujjars and Meenas in Rajasthan. Treating castes as vote banks, most political parties were indulging in cynical and manipulative games. He made it clear that the Lok Satta was totally in favour of reservations so long as birth-based discrimination continued. He, however, wanted the reservation system to be refined. Any scientific system should give weightage to factors like caste, economic status, parents' educational status, rural or urban background, education in Government or private school and medium of instruction.

On Special Economic Zones, Dr. Jayaprakash said that they should not be constituted in agriculturally prosperous land except in rare circumstances. He suggested that farmers be paid more than market rates for their lands and be given one acre of developed land for every two acres acquired for them. This can be done if more land than is required for an SEZ is acquired