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Andhra Pradesh's new capital around Vijayawada city

Govt rejects expert panel's idea of distributed capital functions but proposes decentralised development in the truncated state

BS Reporter  |  Hyderabad 

The Andhra Pradesh government on Thursday said it would make a new capital city for the truncated state in the areas around Vijayawada. Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu moved a resolution in the state legislative Assembly to this effect, later endorsed. It said the cabinet at its meeting this Monday had decided that integrated and equitable development of the state would be best served by this decision.

It has proposed to acquire the needed land from farmers through a land pooling mechanism, encouraging people to participate and benefit from development of a capital city. "As a result the new capital city can proudly call itself a people's capital,”the government said.

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According to the AP Reorganisation Act, the state government has the final authority to decide on the new capital but in consultation with the Centre. It is not clear if the Centre was consulted before declaring Vijayawada as the centre around which the new capital would be built.

The five-member Sivaramakrishnan committee on the subject had suggested splitting the capital city’s locations and functions. It had recommended against the idea of a single city hosting the entire capital city functions and strongly recommended distribution of the location of top government offices, including the high court, across various places in the state.

  • Vijayawada is a natural choice for the Andhra Pra-desh government as it draws its political clout from the powerful socio-political alliances based out of this region
  • An effort to develop a bigger city connecting Vijayawada with nearby Guntur, Tenali, Mangalagiri towns through a VGTM Development Authority was already on to raise the aspirations of these urban centres to become the new capital
  • VGTM area consists a population of 1.72 million people while that of Krishna and Guntur districts is at 9.4 million, home to some of the most affluent farming communities
  • An operational airport at Gannavaram near Vijayawada and availability of ready infrastructure make the government’s job easier to start functioning from this place
  • Vijayawada is located on the banks of the perennial Krishna river, which can provide the drinking water needs of the future capital city and also provide the right ambience as CM Naidu aspires to develop the city on the lines of some of the world’s beautiful cities

It had termed the Vijayawada-Guntur region as unsuitable for this purpose, owing to the fertile agricultural lands here, among other reasons.

The government said it had decided on a central location but would have a decentralised development model. It proposes to establish different institutions, industries and other projects for each of the 13 districts, partly in acknowledgement of the expert committee’s views.

This plan involves development of three 'mega cities', at Tirupati, Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada, representing the three sub-regions, as well as 14 'smart cities', as decided by the state cabinet earlier this week. In a 20-page statement, the government tentatively listed the projects and institutions to be set up in each district.

Arguing in favour of a new capital city at Vijayawada, the chief minister said his government believed the creation of a world-class city at a central location was essential to create a level playing field for the new state. “As experience from across the world demonstrates, a vibrant capital city can act as a catalyst for economic development for the entire state and become an iconic city that is a source of pride for all the citizens,” Naidu said in the legislative assembly.

Notwithstanding the constitution of the five-member committee headed by K C Sivaramakrishnan, a former Union government secretary, and its views on the new capital, the government had time and again hinted that its preferred choice was a single city and its location would only be in the Vijayawada-Guntur region. It had even issued directives to all departments for a makeshift arrangement to operate out of Vijayawada, as a temporary capital.

In the resolution endorsed by the Assembly, the government requested the Centre to take all measures required to correct the disequilibrium created by the state's bifurcation and provide necessary financial and policy support for faster and equitable development.

In recent weeks, opposition parties accused the government of serving real estate interests by promoting speculation in projecting Vijayawada and surrounding areas as the upcoming capital city region.

The course of the assembly proceedings were repeatedly interrupted by the

YSR Congress Party, the lone opposition. It tried to stall the move to introduce a resolution in favour of the new capital city, asking for a detailed discussion on the subject involving all the members. However, later, party president and opposition leader in the Assembly, Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, endorsed the government decision.

It may be recalled that the five-member exert committee constituted by Government of India to examine various alternatives for a new capital for AP had strongly recommended for the distribution of capital functions involving the location of top government offices, including the high court across various locations in the state.

Some major projects proposed
  • VISAKHAPATNAM: International airport, Metro rail, IIM, Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, Mega IT hub, new railway zone, electronics manufacturing hub, innovation and incubation hub and Gangavarm L&G Terminal
  • SRIKAKULAM: New industrial city, Bhavanapadu and Kalingapatnam ports, new airport, School of Planning and Architecture, tourism circuits, open university
  • VIZIANAGARAM: Greenfield airport, industrial city, tribal university, electronics hardware part, port, music and fine arts academy
  • EAST GODAVARI DISTRICT: Petroleum University, port, electronics hardware part, Telugu University, L&G terminal, ship building unit
  • WEST GODAVARI DISTRICT: National Institute of Technology, coal exploration, horticulture research centre
  • KRISHNA DISTRICT: Upgradation of the existing airport into an international airport facility, oil refinery and cracker unit, Machilipatnam port, VGTM (Vijayawada-Gunture-Tenali-Mangalagiri) Metrorail,agri processing and textile parks
  • GUNTUR DISTRICT: VGTM Metrorail, agriculture university, AIIMS, National Institute of Disaster Management, airport
  • PRAKASAM: Donakonda industrial city, University of Mines and Minerals Sciences, airport, national manufacturing investment region
  • NELLORE: Automobile hub, airport, institute of hotel management, marine institute
  • CHITTOOR: Tirupati international airport, Kuppam airport, IIT, IT hub and Metrorail
  • KADAPA: Steel Plant, mineral based industries
  • KADAPA: Horticulture hub, Central University, satellite centre of AIIMs, electronics and hardware cluster
  • KURNOOL: new airport, textile and cement clusters, Indian Institute of Information Technology, Nuclear Fuel Complex

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First Published: Fri, September 05 2014. 00:50 IST