Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Wants To Set Up Three Capitals. These Are The Purposes The Plan May Serve
For the first time after coming to power, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy has made public his views on the capital for his state.
The YSR Congress Party-led government in Andhra Pradesh has all along been indicating that it would not go ahead with the previous Telugu Desam government’s plans to establish a capital in Amaravati.
Reddy and his party have been talking of decentralisation besides indicating that they would not like to overlook the interests of their political base — Rayalaseema.
So, what are the YSR Congress plans for the capital of Andhra Pradesh that has been in the works ever since the state was bifurcated to form Telangana, which gets to keep a well-developed Hyderabad as its capital?
According to Reddy, Amaravati can continue to be the legislative capital of the state, which means the assembly, Legislative Council and Raj Bhavan will be based in the city coming up newly.
YSR Congress political base Kurnool in Rayalaseema will be made the judicial capital, with the Andhra Pradesh High Court and related departments and sections coming up there.
Visakhapatnam, a thriving coastal and port city, will be made an executive capital city, which probably means it could house the state secretariat comprising all important departments such as industry, development and infrastructure.
Reddy, clearing the confusion over the capital city, told the state assembly that the concept of three capitals is based on the lines of South Africa.
South Africa has its legislative capital in Cape Town, judicial capital in Bloemfontein and the administrative-cum-executive capital in Pretoria.
One reason for Reddy to change the previous government’s plans for a grand capital city is lack of resources, especially for his welfare schemes.
The Chief Minister told the assembly that his predecessor N Chandrababu Naidu had plans to construct the capital city spread over an area of 53,000 acres at a cost of Rs 1.09 lakh crore.
Wondering if it would be justified to spend such a huge sum over an area of 20 sq/km, he said his government required Rs 60,000 crore to take water from the Godavari river to the dry Rayalaseema region.
Another Rs 16,000 crore was needed for irrigation in the north coastal region, while Rs 14,000 crore and Rs 30,000 crore respectively had to be spent on improving schools and providing better infrastructure in hospitals.
The Naidu government had floated tenders for works totalling Rs 43,000 crore for setting up the capital at Amaravati but only Rs 5,000 crore had been spent.
The Reddy government stopped 47 of the total 68 development projects that were in the works at Amaravati.
Plans for a comprehensive capital in Amaravati being shelved were made public on 12 November this year when the state government and a Singapore consortium the termination of Amaravati Capital City Start-Up Area Project.
The capital city project had run into rough weather from May onwards this year after the YSR Congress stormed to power in Andhra Pradesh.
The Andhra Pradesh government has not made public its plans to fund these capitals but indications are that the state has estimated the cost for the executive capital at Visakhapatnam at Rs 4,000 crore.
The Centre has allocated Rs 1,000 crore and agreed to provide an additional Rs 1,500 crore for the executive capital. Since the previous government had spent a good amount in Amaravati, some of the development works there are expected to continue.
The Andhra Pradesh Capital Regional Development Authority has estimated the cost of setting up these capitals at Rs 15,000-20,000 crore. This includes an additional Rs 10,000 crore the state will have to incur to make Amaravati a proper city for the people.
Andhra Pradesh also plans to decentralise its administration and the heads of various departments will not be located at a single destination. The places where the heads could be based could even be Kakinada or Kadapa or Anantapur, according to media reports.
The Reddy government’s decision has come in for criticism by Naidu, who has termed this a “Tughlaq move”.
On the other hand, farmers who gave their lands for the new capital in Amaravati are protesting the decision and demanding the grand plan be not shelved.
The Andhra Pradesh unit of Confederation of Real Estate Developers of India, meanwhile, has urged the people not to invest heavily in land and property anticipating huge returns in Kurnool or Visakhapatnam.
The confederation warned that the decision of the current government could undergo a change if another government comes to power in the state. The decision to have three capitals itself will affect the state’s credibility, it said.
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