Till date, several times Andhra Pradesh chief minister YS Jagan Reddy chased to capture the dream of changing Capital of state but not succeded. This time too, he may bite the dust due to difference of public opinion and legalities.

The divided Andhra Pradesh has been separated for more than eight years, yet the remaining AP has yet to choose its capital. After gaining independence in 1947, about 15 more States were formed, although there was no such protracted disagreement over the capital in those States. The situation with AP has been made so difficult that it appears they won’t be able to recover even in the foreseeable future.

In 1953, everything began. Even before the States Reorganisation Commission took shape, the Andhra region broke apart from the former Madras state. It attempted to make Madras City its capital but was unsuccessful. Madras may have served as a joint capital, much like Chandigarh, since it was situated on the border between the two States. Both the capital problem and the State’s revenue issue might have been resolved. Andhra made a serious error in judgement that is still having an impact on the state today.

Persistent issue

From 1953 to 1956, they chose Kurnool as their capital and experienced severe financial hardship. They then barged into Hyderabad state by exploiting the SRC and coercing the Center. With Hyderabad City as its capital and the surplus revenue of Hyderabad State, it was able to solve its capital and revenue shortfall concerns. The Andhra and Telangana regions of the United States experienced another injustice following the merger, which persisted for 58 years before they were separated in 2014.

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Several Examples

In fact, there are a number of examples of capital cities of new States in the nation. Gandhinagar, a moderate city, rather than another Bombay-like city, became Gujarat’s capital as a result of the partition of Bombay and Gujarat. Nagpur, the capital of a second-tier city, was given to Maharashtra by Madhya Pradesh, who picked Bhopal instead. Assam constructed Dispur as its own capital close to Guwahati after ceding Shillong to Meghalaya. In Naya Raipur, Chhattisgarh constructed an integrated capital.

Other new States too settled into their capital towns as per their circumstances and requirements. There was no such fractious controversy as in AP. Moreover, there is no need for it as AP has several large towns and also large government land areas at many places to make a new capital.

The Centre offered to help residual AP with the selection of capital location and also financial aid to construct government infrastructure. Accordingly, the Sivaramakrishnan Committee toured the State and recommended a few places for the capital to be built on government lands. But the maiden government did not even consider the report. Instead, it decided to build the capital in and around Amaravati in Guntur district acquiring about 35,000 acres in 30 villages, in a bizarre land pooling system of complicated financial implications. The matter was steamrolled in the Assembly.

The Central committee report was not placed in the Assembly even for a cursory discussion. The opposition did not demand for it. It was a bad legislative action. Civil society also did not react. The report contained some very sensible recommendations, in keeping with the situation of the new State. But all were thrown to the wind and an outlandish world capital concept was created, which was way beyond the requirement of the State. The Centre’s promised assistance was limited to the bare minimum of government capital-building infrastructure. There was no FDI, as was overly advertised. So the whole project has come unstuck because of its bad conception and impracticability.

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The TDP government was trounced at the hustings in 2019. Though the YSRCP won the massive mandate, it was left with an escalating deficit budget and a rolling stone like the Amaravati project. The new government contemplated some changes in the project and brought in its own peculiar three-capital concept, which again brought several twists to the story via politics and judiciary. The objective of this government of making Visakhapatnam the administrative capital, Kurnool the judicial capital and leaving Amaravati as the legislative capital, is hanging in the air.

Ineffective Alternate

They may have used any of the prior models for choosing a capital, such as establishing a new capital in close proximity to a city or cities, as in the case of the government-owned land between Vijayawada and Guntur or close to Tirupati. Or you may have selected Vizag, the country’s tenth-largest city by GDP and one with a sizable metropolitan infrastructure. Or a greenfield city at a location like Donakonda, which is in the centre of the State and has a lot of government land, with the potential to grow into a major city in the future. It may have easily enabled the State to pay for the necessary capital infrastructure on the government-owned lands.

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Instead, they chose the most fertile private land with a prohibitive financial implication, which the state could not afford. And it has some serious technical and environmental issues to contend with. The NGT has imposed several conditions, which will make the completion of the project very difficult.

The three-capital concept is also not a very practical alternative. Decentralisation of development based on spreading capital infrastructure does not make much sense. Here, the Hyderabad example is also not appropriate because there was no centralised capital building in Hyderabad after 1956. Almost all the capital infrastructure was built before 1956. In a television discussion, it was said that if AP goes ahead with Amaravati it would require Rs 1 lakh crore and if it abandons Amaravati, the State may need to pay Rs 12,000 cr compensation. Even if the three-capital plan is upheld by the Supreme Court, it will be as daunting as building Amaravati because of the compensation conundrum.

Understanding what will happen to AP’s capital plan is a dangerous position. When it will be resolved and brought to a logical conclusion is unknown. This is the outcome of the political parties’ selfish political shenanigans and their lack of egalitarian concern in the future of the State. #KhabarLive #hydnews #hydlive