Telangana Deputy CM Bhatti Vikramarka hits the ground running as finance minister

He also held a review meeting with officials of Singareni Collieries Company Limited and emphasised the need to distribute wealth generated by it among the people.

ByDeepika Pasham

Published Dec 14, 2023 | 7:05 PMUpdatedDec 14, 2023 | 7:08 PM

Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka

Telangana Deputy Chief Minister Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka assumed the office of the Ministry of Finance, Economic Development and Planning at the Secretariat on Thursday, 14 December, and got straight to work.

He announced the release of funds for various guarantees the Congress announced in its manifesto in the run-up to the Telangana Assembly elections.

Also read: Vikramarka gets Praja Bhavan as official residence

Fund disbursement approved

In line with the Congress’ six guarantees, Bhatti Vikramarka approved the initial disbursement of funds under the Mahalakshmi scheme, which was the first instalment of ₹374 crore to the TSRTC as a subsidy.

Another ₹298 crore was disbursed to the Department of Medical Health for Aarogyasri aid of ₹10 lakh per Below Poverty Line (BPL) family.

According to data from the Health Department, the scheme extends its benefits to 90.1 lakh families. The initiative encompasses a range of 1,672 treatments across 21 specialities.

Furthermore, he authorised ₹996 crore in electricity subsidies, and ₹75 crore to various departments towards the arrangements of the tribal Sammakka Sarakka Jatara festival.

Also Read: ₹60k-70k crore? Cost of 6 guarantees depends on eligibility criteria

Review meeting on Singareni Collieries

On Wednesday night, Bhatti Vikramarka also held a review meeting with senior officials of the Singareni Collieries Company Limited and emphasised the need to distribute the wealth generated by it among the people.

He expressed concerns that granting open-cost mining to private entities would only benefit them, leaving the broader population without a share in the profits.

The review, held at the state secretariat on Wednesday night, involved detailed discussions with Singareni’s Chairman and Managing Director, N Sridhar, covering various aspects, such as solar power, coal production, construction of thermal power plants, company’s income, expenditure, and employee facilities.

One of the pressing issues addressed was the surge in arrears to TRANSCO and GENCO, which has escalated to ₹18,326 crore by 2023, with ₹1,521 crore owed to Singareni.

Deputy Chief Minister Bhatti Vikramarka instructed officials to provide a detailed report on the outstanding dues to TSTRANSCO and TSGENCO, seeking explanations for this significant increase since 2014.

Also Read: Bhatti, Uttam, Venkata Reddy among 11 in Revanth Cabinet

Salary disparities a worry

During the meeting, concerns were raised regarding the reduction in Singareni’s workforce from 1.05 lakh employees to just 42,000.

Officials attributed this decline to the privatisation of 18 open-cost mines, a measure aimed at cutting costs amid the rising expenses of coal production.

Deputy Chief Minister Bhatti Vikramarka expressed dissatisfaction with this response, highlighting social responsibility and emphasising that the wealth generated by Singareni should be shared with the people.

While inspecting open-cost mining in Indaram village of Jaipur mandal during a padayatra, an employee of Singareni Collieries drew attention to the substantial salary disparities among employees, particularly those outsourced.

This observation prompted concerns about the societal impact of such income disparities. It underscored the need for measures to prevent the privatisation of Singareni, the largest public sector enterprise in Telangana.

Deputy Chief Minister Bhatti Vikramarka urged a revaluation of the privatisation strategy to ensure a fair and socially responsible distribution of Singareni’s wealth, addressing the growing concerns over unemployment and its potential impact on the state.