"The grant of special category status to Andhra Pradesh is under consideration in Planning Commission," Planning Minister Rao Inderjit Singh said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha.

Singh further said that a special cell for Andhra Pradesh constituted on March 25, 2014 in the Commission has been entrusted with taking preparatory steps for special development package to backward areas of Seemandhra.

Andhra Pradesh has been recently bifurcated into two states Telangana and Andhra Pradesh (Seemandhra).

According to the minister, Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014 does not contain any provision regarding special category status for Seemandhra; creation of special cell for Seemandhra under the Chairmanship of Deputy Chairman (of the Commission) and Bundelkhand type special development package for Rayalaseema and north coastal Andhra.

While intervening in the debate on Andhra Reorganisation Bill in Parliament on February 20 in Rajya Sabha, government had assured special category status for successor state of Andhra Pradesh comprising 13 districts including four districts of Rayalaseema and three districts of north coastal Andhra for a period of five years.

Besides government had also assured creation of a special cell in the Planning Commission headed by Deputy Chairman to address the development needs and a special package for the backward regions of Seemandhra on the lines of KBK special plan in Odisha and the Bundelkhand special package.

Earlier in March, the Union Cabinet, headed by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had directed the Commission to accord the special category status to successor of Andhra Pradesh (Seemandhra) for five years.

Singh had even announced in Rajya Sabha on February 21 that special category status would be extended to the state.

The minister informed the House that the special development package to the backward areas would be worked out based on the specific proposals from Seemandhra Government after due consultations with the concerned ministries.

The special category status to various states is accorded by country's apex planning body National Development Council (NDC) headed by the Prime Minister with Cabinet ministers and all chief ministers on its board, based on consideration of a set criteria.

The criteria include hilly and difficult terrain; low population density and or sizeable share of tribal population; strategic location along borders with neighbouring countries; economic and infrastructure backwardness and non-viable nature of state finances.

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