The expert committee appointed by the Ministry of Home Affairs to study the alternatives for a new capital for Andhra Pradesh has said there is no need for a ‘single super capital city’ for the state in this new age of communication system where physical distances will have no role in running a government.
The committee headed by former IAS officer K Sivaramakrishnan, instead, suggested to the government that the capital functions and various government departments could be distributed across multiple locations of the state to ignite a distributed development as opposed to the ‘Hyderabad model’ of locating everything at one place The 187-page report was put out on the ministry website on Saturday.
Going further, the committee has opposed, in particular, the AP government’s inclination to develop the new capital between Vijayawada and Guntur, citing the region’s significant contribution to rice production and also the potential displacement of a largely agrarian population of Krishna and Guntur districts if these delta lands are allowed to become a target for real estate speculation.
Apart from asking the government to locate different establishments, including the secretariat, legislature and the high court in different locations and cities, the committee has also identified three specific regions away from the Vijayawada-Guntur region for the development of industry, logistics and social infrastructure keeping in line with the inherent potential of these areas.
“The committee does not consider a single large capital city as a feasible option available to Andhra Pradesh now. The existing concentration in Hyderabad of legislature, the courts and the executive comprising numerous ministries, departments, commissionerates and directorates has happened over several years. This concentration has itself been a major bone of contention in the process of bifurcation,” the committee observed.
<b>Possible approaches </b>
According to the report, it looked at three possible approaches on the question of a new capital, namely greenfield location in which a single/super city is created, expanding the existing cities and thirdly distributed development, which it has adopted.
On developing a greenfield capital city, the committee felt that the kind of situation that favoured the establishment of new cities like Chandigarh, Gandhinagar and Bhubaneswar after the Independence no more exists. Further it said: “It appears unlikely that in AP vast areas of government land on this scale will be available.
Further more composite AP has been a leader in the country in developing electronic communication system, especially between government institutions. AP has set the example in overcoming geographical distance by communication.”
In keeping with the dominant objective of decentralised development of the state, the committee has identified three regions or sub-regions, namely Visakhapatnam region, Rayalaseema arc and the Kalahasti-Nadikudi spine. It wants AP high court to be set up in Vizag along with departments related to industry, fisheries among other things. Similarly, it has suggested locating different government departments in different districts of AP.
The committee also opined that the essential functions of government, including the chief minister’s office should be quickly shifted to the locations in AP even while Hyderabad continued to be utilised as the joint capital where institutions like legislature and high court could continue for a few more years.
It has specifically named some places on the periphery of Vijayawada-Guntur-Mangalagiri-Tenali (VGTM) development authority limits for locating the facilities including state secretariat, chief minister’s office and Raj Bhavan considering the profile of the middle Andhra.
One of the terms of reference has been that the committee has to consider issues like least possible dislocation to existing agriculture system, preservation of local ecology, promoting environmentally sustainable growth, minimising the cost of construction and acquisition of land.
Constituted on March 28, 2014, the committee travelled 11 districts and gathered information and opinion of people in various parts of the state regarding the capital city issue.
The committee feels that finding jobs to the increasing workforce is the most important challenge facing AP since manufacturing constitutes just a little over 10 per cent of the total economic output while 52 per cent of the total workforce is in agriculture and allied services.