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HindustanTimes Mon,21 Apr 2014

Ongole likely to be new capital of Andhra Pradesh

Gaurav Chowdhury and Saubhadra Chatterji, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, July 30, 2013
First Published: 22:15 IST(30/7/2013) | Last Updated: 01:20 IST(31/7/2013)

After the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, the possibility of a small town rising up to be the next capital of the state is very high.

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While the Hyderabad is destined to become the permanent capital of Telangana state, Ongole, located about 300 km east of Hyderabad in Prakasam district, could emerge as the next capital of the reconstituted state of Andhra Pradesh.

The government already had acquired nearly 30,000 acres of land in Ongole. This has made the town the favourite to be developed as the newly carved out Andhra state after Hyderabad becomes a full-fledged capital of Telengana.

Top sources told HT that one of the key consideration for selecting the new capital is the cost of the land that has seen a sharp rise in several parts of the Andhra Pradesh, especially in its bigger cities.

The new land bill, that is expected to be passed in the parliament, is going to further hike the cost of the land.

"To build a new state capital from the scratch, thousands of acres of land would be required to build up the infrastructure of the capital. So, the price of land is an extremely important issue here," said a party source.

Earlier, the government was mulling the option of shifting the capital to Vishakapatnam or Tirupati. But sources added that both places now have high land prices which do not make them a viable choice.

Sources told HT that the Tirupathi and were ruled primarily because the cities were located in extreme corners of the state making it administration difficult.

Besides, in both these cities, the government will have to acquire fresh land from farmers to build a new capital, which besides being expensive can also be tricky political sensitivities in land acquisition matters.

Krishna and Godavari districts have also been ruled out owing to lack of government land as a major portion of the land are owned by private parties.

Top sources also pointed out that a few years ago, a significant section of the Andhra Congress had opposed the UPA government's plan to set up a nuclear power plant in the state. This section was keen to build a township instead to a nuclear plant to reap more benefits out of the scarce land.

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