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Saturday, Dec 07, 2019

Speculation over new Andhra capital as Singapore group exits Amravati

The YSRCP government of Jagan Mohan Reddy had made it amply clear that development of Amravati is not its priority. 

india Updated: Nov 14, 2019 09:41 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
A computer-generated representative photo of Andhra Pradesh’s “world class” capital Amaravati.
A computer-generated representative photo of Andhra Pradesh’s “world class” capital Amaravati. (AP Govt)

Tuesday’s termination of the Amaravati Start-up Area Project proposed to be developed jointly by the Andhra Pradesh government and a Singapore consortium as part of the capital area has further fuelled speculation over relocation of capital from Amaravati, the brain-child of former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu.

The start-up area proposed to be developed in 1,691 acres of land was aimed at kickstarting the economic activity in the new capital, as the Singapore consortium was supposed to build multi-storied structures to sell commercial space for IT companies, multi-national offices etc. Now, that looks unlikely.

While Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy has made it clear that developing Amravati was not a priority for his government, his predecessor and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) chief Chandrababu Naidu said winding up of the project was like pushing the state to devastation.

“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 said in his tweet.

Finance minister Buggana Rajendranath Reddy dropped enough hints that the closure of the start-up area project was an indication to winding up Amaravati capital project in its present form.

“The start-up area is not feasible. During the deliberations, it was realised that this is a small part of the big huge city which is about 217 sq km area, roughly about two times size of Mumbai including Navi Mumbai and suburbs. It requires about Rs 2 lakh crore to develop the capital city which is the size of the state’s annual budget,” he said.

He said Amaravati would take several decades to be completed and neither the time nor state finances would permit this sort of 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 IAS officer G Nageshwar Rao, constituted on September 13, completed its exercise of collecting views from the common people and farmers on the location of capital city on Tuesday. The committee, which toured all parts of the state, is expected to submit a report to the government by the end of the month.

An official from the municipal administration department familiar with the development said there is a broad consensus for shifting the administrative capital from the present location to the vast area between Mangalagiri town and Guntur, closer to Nagarjuna University area on either side of the Chennai-Kolkata national highway.

“According to the preliminary discussions, state secretariat and assembly complex, presently 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.

Secondly, there are a couple of fully-developed gated community ventures with all facilities that came up closer to Nagarjuna University. “Because of 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, adding it doesn’t need huge expenditure for constructing other administrative structures.

YSR Congress party MLA from Mangalagiri Alla Ramakrishna Reddy said there had been an increasing support within the party to the proposal for relocation. “There is a vast area of government land between Mangalagiri and Guntur, besides 10,000 acres of forest land which could be de-notified for the capital. Since these are upland areas, the cost of construction would be very less compared to present location of Amaravati, which is in flood plains,” Reddy said.

In August, urban development minister Botsa Satyanarayana had said that the state government was seriously considering relocation of capital city from Amaravati because the entire place was prone to frequent floods.