Home / Politics / Policy /  Telangana claims Andhra Pradesh stole its ease of doing business data

Hyderabad: Telangana has accused its neighbour Andhra Pradesh of copying its ease of doing business data and guidelines and approached the cybercrime division in Hyderabad to investigate.

Charging Andhra Pradesh with resorting to “unethical means" and “shamelessly" stealing data from an online application prepared by Telangana officials, the state government has asked the state police to initiate action against those responsible.

The state has lodged a complaint alleging theft of website information and template copyrights with its cybercrime police. AP has refuted the charges, and said it has no need to do so as it ranks far ahead of Telangana in terms of ease of doing business.

The spat marks a fresh low in ties between the two southern states that have raced to attract investments ever since Telangana was carved out of the erstwhile AP in June 2014. The two governments have often wooed the same investors, extending tax benefits, incentives and offers of cheap land to attract investments.

AP ranked second and Telangana 13th in an ease of doing business survey conducted by the World Bank last year.

The rankings, sponsored by Department of Industrial Policy and Promotion (DIPP), measured states’ effectiveness in reducing red tape and maximizing transparency to facilitate ease of doing business, an important part of the Union government’s Make in India plans.

AP has flaunted its ranking at several meetings with visiting foreign dignitaries and potential investors since September, when the World Bank’s results were made public.

To boost the state’s chances at the World Bank ranking this year, Telangana officials say various departments brainstormed to develop a comprehensive ease of doing business (EODB) strategy. The government simultaneously developed an online system to try and improve its ranking this year.

Telangana officials say they filled a comprehensive questionnaire containing 340 questions on an online portal of DIPP by 28 June. DIPP extended the deadline by a week (to 7 July) from 30 June, the initial deadline.

“The AP government has misused this extension," Arvind Kumar, Telangana’s principal secretary, industries, alleged. “As it is not possible to improve EODB rankings in a short time, the AP government has resorted to unethical and illegal means. The blatant copying of the Telangana government’s online application procedure is an example."

Telangana has furnished two pieces of evidence to back up its accusation.

First, it says Andhra Pradesh copied some spelling mistakes from Telangana’s application.

Telangana misspelt the word “filled" as ‘filed’, which also reflected in AP‘s application, according to The New Indian Express, which first reported the development.

AP, according to Telangana officials, also copied terminology from Telangana’s application. Telangana used the term, “submission reference number" as part of its industrial policy, TS-iPass (Telangana State Industrial Project Approval and Self Certification System).

“Though this process is not in vogue in AP, they have used the terminology submission reference number," Kumar said.

Telangana industries minister K.T. Rama Rao has written to commerce and industry minister Nirmala Sitharaman, drawing her attention to the issue.

He, however, took no names, while requesting the Union minister to verify all compliances uploaded after 30 June so that “no state gets away with wrong claims or something which exists only on paper".

“It is simple and pure slander," Parakala Prabhakar, a spokesperson for the AP government said in response to a text message seeking comment.

Prabhakar maintained that the AP government last uploaded primary information on 30 June and only answered clarifications sought by World Bank and DIPP.

“We have not done any primary information upload after 30th," Prabhakar later said over the phone. “Moreover, our service provider and their service provider are different. Our server and their server are different. There is absolutely no way the information can be plagiarized or copied."

He held that “filing" and “filling" were not examples of a spelling mistake but were options in the application.

Referring to Telangana’s charge that the term “submission reference number" was not present in AP’s industry policy, Prabhakar said the term originated from a notification by the high court of judicature—the common high court—at Hyderabad for the states of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.

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