The central government would soon announce a massive relief package for 16 districts of Andhra Pradesh that have seen an alarming number of suicides by distressed farmers, United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi said here Wednesday.
Addressing a mammoth public meeting after inaugurating the Rs 1.5 billion Rajiv Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (RIMS) at Kadpa, she said the Congress-led UPA government would announce the package for the districts hit by drought.
Gandhi is on a daylong visit to Kadpa and Kurnool districts in drought-prone Rayalseema region of the state.
She said both Chief Minister YS Rajasekhara Reddy and state Congress president K Keshava Rao had brought to her notice the problems of those districts of the state that face constant drought.
She said the Congress government in the state and the UPA government at the centre were committed to the welfare of farmers and workers.
"The number of suicides (by farmers) is going down in Andhra Pradesh but yet we are sensitive to the issue," Gandhi said lashing out at the previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government for neglecting farmers and workers for nine years.
Addressing the well-attended public meeting in the chief minister's native district, she thanked the people for bringing the Congress to power in Andhra Pradesh in 2004 with a massive mandate and also helping the party form a coalition government in New Delhi.
Showering praise on the Rajasekhara Reddy government, she said it had many achievements to its credit during last two and half years.
Gandhi said the state government had set an example for other states by launching 'Jalayagnam', the massive programme to irrigate additional 7.3 million acres of land.
She said the state had also set an example in the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee scheme and it was number one among all states in empowerment of women through self-help groups.
Earlier, the Congress president inaugurated the RIMS campus, which has come up on 200 acres of land. The new facility consists of 750-beded hospital, a medical college in addition to hostels and staff quarters. She also inaugurated a nursing college and laid foundation stone for a dental college.
"This demonstrates the Congress party's commitment to improve quality of public health in Andhra Pradesh," she said.
She used the occasion to extend her greetings to people on the occasion of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the forthcoming Hindu festival of Dassehra.
Gandhi later reached Mydukur in the same district and released water from the Telugu Ganga Project to irrigate 50,000 acres in three districts of Kadpa, Kurnool and Chittoor.
Earlier, she landed at Renigunta airport near the temple town of Tirupati at 11 am and left for Kadpa in a helicopter along with the chief minister and Congress general secretary Digvijay Singh.
Massive security arrangements have been made for her visit in view of the Maoist threat in the region.