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.
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.
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