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Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh Infrastructure (Transparency through Judicial Preview) Bill 2019, which will set up a mechanism for Judicial Preview to scrutinize all biddings for projects that are valued above 100 crore, was passed by the state assembly during the ongoing budget session. The bill was introduced by the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government, led by chief minister Y. S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, to bring in transparency with regard to big-ticket deals.

Addressing the assembly before the bill was passed with a voice vote, Reddy stated that the new law will be a “beginning for transparency in governance". In an attack on the previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government, led by former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, Reddy said, “The new law will also erase the image of corruption the state has acquired by the misdeeds of the previous government."

As per the bill, any work that is worth more than 100 crore, even if it is split into fractions, will first be sent for a review by a judge, referred to by the AP High Court. The judge will then place the tender or work on the public domain for one week and will seek the opinion from the people, before scrutinizing the tender papers. A final decision will be given by him or her in eight days.

During the eight-day period, the judge will be provided with the required technical assistance and logistics which he or she asks for, Jagan Mohan Reddy said during his address on Friday. The entire process for the review will take a fortnight. “This is the transparency in governance which we have promised to the people," he added.

Earlier, initiating the Bill, minister for industries and commerce, Mekapati Gowtham Reddy, said that the new act will enable to bring in transparency by putting big ticket infrastructure works above 100 crore (which may be segregated or divided, separated) under public and judicial scrutiny and taking the suggestions before finalizing the contract.

Finance Minister Buggana Rajendernath also said that the Bill was necessary, and accused the previous government of “institutionalizing corruption mostly in the capital area region by adopting arbitrary methods" in the bidding process and allotting a select few companies with various works. “The state has reduced the capital formation activity into a real estate venture selling plots," he alleged.

According to the Bill, all related documents of the tenders will be placed in public domain for one week inviting suggestions. After receiving suggestions from the public, the tender documents shall be previewed by a (High Court) judge and suggestions thereon may be incorporated by him which will be final.

The bill has identified 25 sectors including Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) that could be considered for judicial preview. The aim of the bill is to create equal opportunity, cost and quality consciousness while developing infrastructure projects, said a press release from Jagan Mohan Reddy’s office on Friday.

A day earlier, the assembly also passed the Andhra Pradesh Employment of Local Candidates in Industries/Factories Bill 2019, mandating industries (that come up in public or Public Private partnership) to provide 75% reservation to locals. The state legislature also passed a bill that sought to amend the Andhra Pradesh (Regulation of Trade in Indian Made Foreign Liquor, Liquor) Act 1993, enabling regulation of liquor shops and bars.

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