A look at the major developments in Andhra Pradesh that dominated public attention in 2020.
The AP Assembly passed a bill to develop three capitals with Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy assuring justice to Amaravati farmers, who had been on the warpath for more than a month by then and still continue to agitate. The capital city trifurcation divided the people and caused much heartburn to Amaravati residents.
In an embarrassment for the state government, a report emerged that KIA Motors was planning to move out of its $1.1 billion manufacturing plant because of laws mandating local hiring and review of incentives given by the previous government. However, the state government denied the report, and KIA Motors went on to announce an additional investment of $54 million in its Ananthapur plant.
Coronavirus starts to affect AP, disrupting all activities, and normal life. n Starting with reports of a software engineer being admitted to a government hospital in Kakinada and more people showing symptoms, the government allocates Rs 200 crore on March 6 to tackle the virus. In the following days, 75 returnees from Italy have advised self-isolation, even as the government announces a cluster containment plan and the state election commissioner postpones rural local body elections. On March 18, all educational institutions are shut down to protect students from the pandemic, followed by Tirupati temple and other religious places, including all places of mass gatherings. On March 22, Chief Minister announces a lockdown till March 31 while the state police chief says quarantine is a must for all inter-state entrants.
The state government sacks SEC Nimmagadda Ramesh Kumar and appoints retired HC judge V. Kanagaraj as the new SEC. However, this move eventually backfires, as the SC reinstates the SEC, considering the Constitutional protection enjoyed by the SEC which is equal to that of a Supreme Court judge. The coronavirus pandemic enters the second month, as infections rise to 1,403 by the end of April.
Eight people died and 300 were hospitalized due to leaked styrene gas from South Korean company LG Polymers plant in Visakhapatnam, evoking memories of the Bhopal gas tragedy. Coronavirus cases continued to rise reaching 3,042, while the state prepared to receive the first batch of returnees from foreign countries and interstate migrants trudge through Andhra on their way back home.
AP ACB arrested former minister and TDP MLA K. Atchannaidu in connection with his alleged involvement in the ESI scam. Atchannaidu eventually got bail and became TDP state president. Owing to the rising coronavirus infections, which rose to 14,595, the state government cancels Class X exams. Rebel YSRCP leader Kanumuru Raghu Rama Krishna becomes a thorn in the flesh of YS Jagan Mohan Reddy and the YSRCP as he launches attacks from within.
Videos of inhuman disposal of Covid victims’ bodies create a controversy, even as Covid deaths rise. The government announces Rs 15,000 financial aid for the last rites of Covid victims. Covid infections rise in the thousands as the tally touches 1.4 lakh. Deprived of liquor, nine people resort to consuming hand sanitizer in the Prakasam district and succumb to the cocktail of chemicals in their stomachs. Governor Biswa Bhusan Harichandan gives his assent to the trifurcation of the state’s capital.
Former Endowments Minister and BJP leader Pydikondala Manikyala Rao succumbs to Covid-19. The state starts reporting 10,000 Covid infections a day which continues for many days. Somu Veerraju takes over as chief of the AP BJP. Heavy rains flood thousands of acres in Godavari districts. As the capital city trifurcation issue is under the scrutiny of the HC, the Centre tells the Court that it has no role to play in deciding the capital city.
The loss of EG district’s Antarvedi Sri Lakshmi Narasimha Swamy temple’s chariot in a fire incident, whose exact reason is yet to be established, triggered a massive controversy. As corruption charges are filed against the former advocate general, the government seeks a CBI probe. Legendary singer S. P. Balasubrahmanyam dies due to Covid.
Covid recoveries continue to outnumber infections in the state. n The CM launches a free crop insurance scheme. Reddy complains to CJI S. A. Bobde about the alleged intervention of a SC Judge in the AP HC to allegedly protect the interests of the TDP. n Counter protests demanding trifurcation of the capital city gain momentum. The revenue department starts taking back encroached land in Visakhapatnam where CM Reddy proposes to set up the executive capital. The government disburses Rs 1,115 crore as part of the Rythu Bharosa scheme subsidy. To provide relief to people hit financially by the coronavirus pandemic, the government announces a 30 percent reduction in fees charged by private unaided schools and intermediate colleges.
In less than a month’s time, AP witnesses three ghastly crimes against women, including setting a woman ablaze in Vijayawada. As part of its ‘Operation Muskaan’, AP Police rescued 12,621 children living on the streets or forced to work for a living. Covid recoveries cross the 8 lakh mark. As many as 829 government teachers and 575 students in AP tested positive for Covid, most of the teachers underwent the test prior to the reopening of schools. The government set free 55 women life convicts on humanitarian grounds. n The government expanded the scope of Dr. YSR Aarogyasri, adding 234 new procedures to raise the number to 2,434, including cancer. The state suffered agricultural and infrastructural damage to the tune of Rs 8,084 crore in heavy rains and floods, including Cyclone Nivar. AP’s Covid sample tests crossed the 90 lakh mark.
A mysterious illness rocks West Godavari district headquarters Eluru, which experts said was caused by pesticides. Krishna district police arrest Baduku Nageshwar Rao, who allegedly attempted to murder Transport Minister Perni Venkatramaiah. Following an impressive performance in the Hyderabad civic polls, state BJP leaders launched an all-out attack on the government over the bad condition of roads. A group of 16 Christmas carollers were hit by a truck in AP’s Kurnool district in the wee hours of December 15, resulting in three of them dying on the spot.
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