All roads lead to Amaravati but the journey to Andhra Pradesh’s capital is not a smooth one. Not for thousands of government staff who have to shuttle between Hyderabad, the old capital, and the new one.
With the shifting of the administration completed by October 3, around 8,000 employees, who are yet to shift base, are forced to shuttle between the two cities every week through various modes of transport. For those taking the 5.30am special train, Secunderabad-Vijayawada Inter-City Express, the journey is “horrible”.
B Bhagya, a senior panchayat raj and rural development official who takes the train at 5am every Monday, has to wake up at 4am, get ready, catch an auto and travel 5km from her Gandhinagar residence to Secunderabad railway station.
Even after that, often she doesn’t get a seat. The first stop is Guntur, four hours away. “It is impossible to go to the washroom because the way is blocked. It has been a horrible experience,” she says.
“The train has around 1,600 seats, but more than 2,000 people travel every Monday,” complains Krishnaveni, another woman employee. On doing the trip every day, Bhagya says, “It is just impossible to spend 11 hours in the train.”
This correspondent got a first-hand experience travelling with the employees. For reserved seats, one has to stand in long queues at the current booking counters. Those who manage to get seats are not comfortable as they cannot budge till they reach their destination.
More than half the passengers get off at Guntur and take the state-run buses to the new secretariat complex at Velagapudi. Others working in the non-secretariat departments get off at Vijayawada.
For the next five days, they stay in rented apartments and dormitories on a sharing basis in and around Velagapudi, Guntur and Vijayawada. “I stay in a hostel with my colleagues while some others stay as paying guests with their acquaintances,” Krishnaveni said.
The government has hired The Rain Tree Park, a multi-storeyed apartment near Guntur, exclusively for secretariat employees.
Many apartments such as Capital Square have come up close to the secretariat complex. “But the rental charges are abnormal, ranging from Rs 15,000 to Rs 24,000,” says Das Babu, an electricity department employee.
Several employees shifted their families to Vijayawada and Guntur and Mangalagiri, which is closer to Velagapudi. “I shifted to Guntur in June itself as I had to look for schools for my son. My husband, a private employee, also moved with me,” said Nagamani, an official in the General Administration Department (GAD).
According to AP Secretariat Employees Association leader Muralikrishna, 90% of the state administration has moved to Velagapudi, Vijayawada and Guntur. However, the police department and a few agencies like AP Power Generation Corporation and AP Transmission Corporation are yet to be shifted to Amaravati.