Insights into Editorial: Making capital out of political rivalry
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy hinted that the South African model of three capitals was best suited in his State and that his government would work towards this.
In South Africa, the administrative capital is in Pretoria, its national legislature in Cape Town and its judicial capital in Bloemfontein.
Mr. Reddy’s idea seems to stem from the reasoning that a distribution of executive, legislative and judicial governance across Visakhapatnam, Amaravati (the current capital) and Kurnool would allow for “a decentralised development of the State”.
Formation of Andhra Pradesh state:
When the Telugu-speaking Andhra State was carved out of the composite Madras State in 1953, Kurnool was made the capital.
Three years later, in 1956, the erstwhile Hyderabad State was merged with the Andhra State to form Andhra Pradesh with Hyderabad as the capital.
Once the state is bifurcated in 2014, Amaravati was announced as the new capital city of Andhra Pradesh.
More than 30,000 acres of land was pooled from the farmers. This is situated on the banks of river Krishna. Now, the Chief Minister mooted the idea of three capitals.
Arguments by state government on shifting capital:
Municipal Minister said Amaravati would be developed into an education hub.
State government will all honour all promises made to the farmers and give them developed plots in lieu of their lands already pooled.
The government would utilise the lands taken from the farmers.
The minister said the government was not in a position to spend Rs one lakh crore on the capital city’s development.
What will happen to the other 12 districts of the state if we develop everything here? We are committed to the comprehensive development of all 13 districts.
Distributing locations of Governance:
The location choices are in the upper, central and lower geographical regions. Such an arrangement follows the recommendations of the expert committee appointed by the Home Affairs Ministry in 2014 to study alternatives for a new capital.
Chaired by K.C. Sivaramakrishnan, the panel had argued against the need for a greenfield capital city and to instead focus on distributing locations of governance beyond the Vijayawada-Guntur-Tenali-Mangalagiri urban area, while utilising the time period of 10 years to continue functions from Hyderabad after bifurcation.
The Chief Minister’s idea has got support from the government-appointed G.N. Rao committee; it has recommended that the Assembly’s location be retained at Amaravati, with the Secretariat and High Court moved to Visakhapatnam and Kurnool, respectively.
Logistical difficulties must be faced by officials:
Yes, it is true that the Sivaramakrishnan Committee, constituted by the Central government to suggest choices for the capital, did not favour one ‘super-capital’ and pitched for decentralised development.
But the panel also never said that there should be a string of capitals across the State as is being interpreted now.
Perhaps, it was for this reason that the government went in for a fresh committee headed by former IAS officer G.N. Rao to get a report in sync with its thinking.
This committee suggested that Andhra Pradesh should have a High Court in Kurnool, with a bench each in Visakhapatnam and Amaravati; and an Assembly in Amaravati, which also conducts a few sessions in Visakhapatnam.
The proposal promises to be a logistical nightmare with officials frequently having to hop from one city to another.
Exit of partners:
The World Bank and AIIB, which had jointly planned to invest $300 million, quit the project post the elections. The Singapore government, which was originally a project partner, agreed to exit it.
Sand and steel stocked at the site have gone missing, said some locals on the condition of anonymity.
The Indo-UK Medicity project has been scrapped while the BR Shetty Medicity venture too is almost closed. Both projects did not take off after the foundation stone ceremonies in 2016.
We should look at the capital as something which will be there for hundreds of years and definitely not from short- term perspective. We should look at it from the 21-century model of decentralised development.
Amaravati Farmers Write to President, PM against Proposal to Develop Three Capitals in Andhra:
Farmers have been protesting ever since Chief Minister announced the government’s proposed three-capital formula and an expert panel has submitted a report in this regard.
The farmers in their letters have said the government’s decision would impact their lives as they had given 33,000 acres of fertile lands for the ambitious development plan of a new capital after the state’s bifurcation.
They urged the prime minister, who had laid the foundation stone for building the new capital, to stop the government from going ahead with proposal.
Leaving aside Amaravati’s scale and size, a centrally located capital has already come into existence with the completion of Secretariat, Assembly and High Court buildings.
Should not a government that appears to be sensitive to extravagant public expenditure capitalise on this infrastructure, instead of creating something new in various cities at an enormous cost.
Predictable environment is essential for attracting investments. When the decisions are changed half-way, it affects the investment climate.
In future, such type of projects involving land pooling across the country may create apprehensions in the minds of the farmers.
Normally people expect upward mobility, in this case after ascending towards upward mobility, farmers have to face the problems of downward mobility, which may create undue strain.