Doubts surface over Amaravati as capital
The start-up area, which was to be developed on 1,691 acres of land, was aimed at kickstarting economic growth in the proposed new capital city.The Singapore consortium was supposed to build multistoried structures to sell commercial space to information technology and other companies.Updated: Nov 14, 2019 02:17 IST
The termination of the Amaravati Start-up Area Project, which was to be developed jointly by the Andhra Pradesh (AP) government and a Singapore consortium, comprising Ascendas Singbridge Pte. Ltd and Sembcorp Development Ltd, has lent credence to speculation that the proposed state capital would be shifted from Amaravati.
The start-up area, which was to be developed on 1,691 acres of land, was aimed at kickstarting economic growth in the proposed new capital city.The Singapore consortium was supposed to build multistoried structures to sell commercial space to information technology and other companies.
According to Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leaders, the termination could spell the end of TDP leader and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s dream project.
“AP was brimming with confidence when the Singaporean government signed up with us to cooperate in building Amaravati. The dream lies shattered today with them pulling out. Hope is lost, investments are gone. Trust has disappeared. Andhra Pradesh is on the path of devastation,” Naidu wrote in a Twitter post.
The Singapore government on Tuesday declared that it was opting out of the capital city start-up area plan, the announcement coming months after the World Bank pulled out of the project.
Naidu’s successor YS Jaganmohan Reddy, who replaced him as chief minister in May, has said the city’s development would not be a priority of his government. He demolished a Rs 9-crore conference hall Naidu had built in Amaravati when he took office. Reddy has called the land acquisition for the new capital a scam and cut funds for its development.
Finance minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy dropped enough hints that the closure of the start-up area project was an indication that the Amaravati capital city project, in its present form, would be wound up.
“It requires about Rs 2 lakh crore to develop the capital city, which is the size of the state’s annual budget,” he said.
Reddy said Amaravati would take several decades to be completed and neither time nor state finances would permit its development. “We have various other requirements of the state like infrastructure development of health, industries, employment to youth and the holistic development of the entire state with 13 districts,” Reddy said.
A six-member committee of experts, headed by retired Indian Administrative Service officer G Nageshwar Rao, formed on September 13, is expected to submit a report to the government on the capital city project by the end of the month.
An official from the municipal administration department familiar with the development said there was a broad consensus on shifting the administrative capital from the present location to a vast area between Mangalagiri town and Guntur, close to Nagarjuna University, on either side of the Chennai-Kolkata national highway.
“According to the preliminary discussions, state secretariat and assembly complex, currently located at Velagapudi, could be moved to Nagarjuna University campus, which has spacious buildings and huge open space. The university campus itself could be relocated to Velagapudi complex,” the official said on condition of anonymity.
A couple of fully developed gated community ventures have come up close to Nagarjuna University. “Because of a slump in the real estate market, they have remained unoccupied. The government can take over these ventures and accommodate all the government offices which have been running in several rented buildings in Vijayawada and Guntur in these buildings,” the official said.
Ruling YSR Congress Party MLA from Mangalagiri, Alla Ramakrishna Reddy, said support for a proposal to relocate the capital had grown within the party.
“There is a vast area of government land between Mangalagiri and Guntur, besides 10,000 acres of forest land which could be denotified for the capital. Since these are upland areas, the cost of construction would be much less compared to the present location of Amaravati, which is in the flood plains,” Reddy said.