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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

The Andhra CM should come out with a clear-cut plan on the future of Amravati

There seem to be two reasons for Mr Reddy’s desire to downsize the project: One is political. Mr Reddy, observers say, wants to cut the Kamma (Mr Naidu’s vote bank) community to size, and expand the hold of the Reddy community. The second is administrative, but this also has a strong political undertone

editorials Updated: Sep 12, 2019 19:01 IST

Hindustan Times
Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy in Vijayawada, June 3, 2019
Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy in Vijayawada, June 3, 2019(PTI)
         

Amaravati, the new capital of Andhra Pradesh that is being built on the banks of river Krishna, was not just the brainchild of former Telegu Desam Party chief minister, Chandrababu Naidu, it was his dream project. But the YSR Congress Party CM, Jagan Mohan Reddy, who completed 100 days in office on September 7, made it clear from day one that the city’s development would not be his priority. One of the first things he did after taking office was to demolish the ~ 9-crore conference hall that his predecessor had built in Amaravati. The CM also called the land acquisition for the new capital a big scam, and cut funds for construction. Reports suggest that the Singapore Consortium, which was developing the so called start-up area, is keen to exit the project.

There seem to be two reasons for Mr Reddy’s desire to downsize the project. One is political. Mr Reddy, observers say, wants to cut the Kamma community (Mr Naidu’s vote bank) to size, and expand the hold of the Reddy community. The second is administrative, but this also has a strong political undertone. Mr Reddy feels a decentralised administrative set-up, as recommended by the KS Sivaramakrishnan committee in 2014, will lead to equitable development of the state. There is nothing wrong in a politician wanting to construct and strengthen a new political legacy, but public policy must not be held hostage to that aspiration, as it is happening in the case of Amravati.

Instead of vacillating, the CM should come out with a clear-cut plan on the future of the city because whatever has been built (and demolished) was done with public money, and on prime agricultural land. Therefore, he must explain to the electorate what will happen to all the land that was acquired for the project. Moreover, by delaying it, Mr Reddy is also putting the downsized Amravati at stake. This is because a city is not created by constructing roads and buildings. It needs a sizeable population, and an ecosystem that develops around people, to make it vibrant. If the Amravati project is being downsized solely on political grounds, Mr Reddy will have to take the responsibility of criminal waste of crucial public resources.

First Published: Sep 12, 2019 19:00 IST