Student fee issue triggers fresh spat between Andhra, Telangana governments

After power and water, the Andhra Pradesh and Telangana governments are girding their loins for a battle over the student fee reimbursement issue, with the Chandrababu Naidu regime in AP on Wednesday threatening to legally challenge the criterion being laid down by the Telangana government to reimburse the money to students who are claiming Telangana nativity. 

After Telangana chief cinister K Chandrasekhar Rao stated in the assembly recently that the his government will pay only for the Telangana students studying in their own state as well as in AP, the AP finance minister, Yanamala Ramakrishnudu, responded by saying that his government will pay for the Andhra students in Telangana.

But just when it appeared that the matter was resolved, Rao made a second statement on the nativity of the students. According to the CM, it is not enough if a student from Andhra claims Telangana nativity by virtue of the fact that he / she has been studying in this state for the last four years. For such students to be considered as belonging to Telangana and thus be eligible for the fee reimbursement as promised by the TRS regime, the student's father too should have Telangana nativity.

The AP government is up in arms over this criterion being insisted upon by the Rao regime. "The Telangana government's argument is against the Presidential Order and several other ones as well. It is not just about fees, if one goes by this criterion, students will lose the nativity advantage in job opportunities as well," AP SC / ST welfare minister, Ravela Kishore Babu, said.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Kishore Babu termed Rao's condition as a conspiracy to deprive fee reimbursement and jobs to several students from Andhra studying here.

"The only factor that should be considered as nativity is that the student should have studied in a state from class VI to X. There can be no other criterion," he said.

On Tuesday, Kishore Babu, education minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao and backward classes welfare minister Kollu Ravindra met governor ESL Narasimhan and complained about the approach of the Telagnana regime on the fee reimbursement issue. "We will approach the advocate general to seek more clarity as to how to tackle the issue. If needed, we will go to court," said Kishore Babu.

According to the estimates of the Andhra Pradesh government, there are about 30,000 students belonging to Andhra who are studying in Telangana in various streams like engineering, medicine and computer applications and eligible for fee reimbursement . On the other hand, as per its calculation, there are about 20,000 Telangana students studying in AP.

The burden on Andhra Pradesh in reimbursing the student fee would be around Rs150 crore per year while it will be Rs56 crore for Telangana. The difference in the amount is because the students from Telangana studying in AP are in lower streams where the fee is lesser, while the AP students studying in Telangana are in the higher streams which attract more fee.

Therefore, the burden on the AP government is more than that of the Telangana government.

Kishore Babu claimed that the governor had assured them that he would speak to the chief secretaries of both the states and get the issue resolved. But at this juncture, there appears to be no meeting ground between the stances of the two governments despite the fact that it is the students from both sides of the divide who are ending up as the victims.