The Andhra Pradesh government will be bringing in a ban on online gambling by making necessary amendments, the State Cabinet decided on Thursday. The Cabinet has also given its nod for implementing the decision to provide free power supply to farmers through direct cash transfer to their bank accounts to pay their power bills.
Addressing the media after the Cabinet meeting on Thursday, Information and Public Relations Minister Perni Venkataramaiah said that online gambling will be banned and amendments will be brought in to the State Gaming Act, 1974. “For a first time offender, organisers of online gambling would get a jail term of one year along with a fine, while the jail term would go up to two years with a fine for repeat offenders. Those playing online games will be sentenced for six months jail,” the minister said
The Minister added that Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy was particular about the free power to the farmers and that no burden should fall on them.
“The government shall implement the scheme, through direct cash transfer mode, where the money will be directly credited to farmers’ bank accounts for the power consumed by them in their fields and they, in turn, shall pay the power bills to the distribution companies,” he added.
The pilot project will be introduced in Srikakulam and it will cover the entire state from April 2021, the minister said.
The Cabinet also decided that not a single connection will be removed and all the connections will be regularized. “Nine-hour power supply in day time should be ensured, and the cost of smart meters should be borne by DISCOMs and State,” the Cabinet has decided.
“To meet the demand, plans are afoot for developing 10,000 MW solar power plant and the power reforms will not affect the farmers,” the Minister said. “Smart meters will be installed and dedicated bank accounts will be created solely for the purpose of paying the subsidy amount.”
The state government will be spending Rs 1,700 crore for strengthening the electricity feeders and Rs 8,300 crore per annum towards this scheme.
The Andhra Pradesh government has accused TDP, which was in the earlier government, of neglecting the farmers. “During the previous TDP term, only 40 percent of feeders were working. We have brought it up to 89 percent and the remaining gap will be filled by this Rabi season. So far, 18 lakh power connections are there in the state and all connections of farmers will be regularized,” Perni Venkataramaiah said.
He added that a post of Divisional Development Officer will be created for better functioning of village secretariats.
The Cabinet on Thursday also gave in-principle approval for constructing two barrages downstream to Prakasam barrage, each with a holding capacity of 3 TMC. The first one will be constructed between Penamaluru and Mangalagiri with an estimated budget of Rs 1,215 Crore and the second one between Mopidevi and Repalle with an expenditure of Rs 1,273 Crore, the government has said. The Cabinet also approved various irrigation projects, including Babu Jagjivan Ram Uttharandhra Sujala Sravanthi for irrigating 8 lakh acres in the North Andhra region, with a budget of Rs 15,389.80 crore, the minister said.
The Cabinet also agreed to construct the Varikapudisila lift irrigation project in Palanadu region, at a budget of Rs 1,273 crore. As part of Rayalaseema Drought Mitigation Project, the cabinet approved the works of 14 reservoirs and lift irrigation projects.
In order to boost aquaculture, the state has also decided to start a fisheries university in West Godavari district at a cost of Rs 300 crore in the next five years. Land has been allocated for setting up of two medical colleges, one in Bapatla on an area of 51.07 acres and one in Markapuram, where 41.97 acres has been allocated, he said.
The Cabinet also approved a government order (GO) for the establishment of AP State Development Corporation for planning and funding of State government’s welfare schemes like Nadu-Nedu, Cheyutha, Aasara, Rythu Bharosa.
The state has also extended the ban on Maoist Party and its frontal organizations by one year.