Five years ago. On October 22, 2015, the day of Dusshera, the foundation stone was laid for the dream capital of Andhra Pradesh- ‘Amaravati’ by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the then Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu at Uddhandarayunipalem village. The Japanese minister for economy, trade and industry Yosuke Takagi and Singapore minister for trade and industry S. Iswaran, along with the then Urban Development Minister N Venkaiah Naidu, Governor ESL Narasimhan, and Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao also attended the foundation stone ceremony.
For three and a half years from that day, Amaravati—the People’s Capital began taking shape. On the land given by the farmers for a world-class capital, the Naidu-government had finalized tenders for various projects worth Rs 35,000 crore, of which several reached completion.
Cut to today. With the Jaganmohan Reddy government announcing that Andhra Pradesh would have three capitals instead of one while scrapping the Project Amaravati, the works came to a standstill. Today, amidst the stagnation, the only voice that echoes on the 35,000 acres of land is that of the farmers, who voluntarily gave up their rich agricultural land for the sake of the capital city.
In 2014, the combined Andhra Pradesh state was bifurcated into the State of Telangana and the residuary State of Andhra Pradesh by the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014. It declared the city of Hyderabad as the common capital for both the states for a period not exceeding ten years.
The common capital city of Hyderabad being outside the geographical boundaries of Andhra Pradesh caused both administrative inconvenience and greater hardship to the people. Thus, it necessitated the government to build a new capital for itself — Amaravati. Under the provisions of the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Act, the Government has notified an area of 217 sq km in Thullur, Tadepalli and Mangalagiri Mandals as the Capital City area and the capital city has been named as Amaravati.
It is promised to be ‘an Indian city like no other’—a modern, leafy metropolis modeled on Singapore. With a slew of futuristic features embedded into its design, Amaravati ‘The People’s Capital’, the de-facto capital city of the state of Andhra Pradesh, was constructed expeditiously.
Developments in Amaravati so far
After over 33,000 acres had been collected from the farmers under what is known as the Land Pooling Scheme, an interim government complex in Velagapudi village was completed in a record time of seven months. Consisting of six blocks in an area of 6,00,000 square feet, it houses the current secretariat, assembly and state departments.
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Construction activities screeched to a halt after elections to the Lok Sabha and state assembly in July. Hotels and restaurants are empty, new houses look haunted, auto showrooms have no buyers.
World Bank and AIIB, which together were to pump in $300 million, pulled out of the Amaravati capital region project soon after the polls. After clinching victory, Jaganmohan Reddy quickly announced an inquiry into allegations of corruption. And he stayed quiet on whether Amaravati would be the capital at all.
It was promised as a dream come true – a utopia. However, the city, which was being developed as the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, now stares at a bleak future – after the pullout of major investors, as well as the lack of political will. As the dream project of Naidu lies in tatters at the moment, he is only left to lament. “The destruction of a dream, conceived and was being implemented to put the State back on development track after suffering bifurcation, as a means of vengeance against one person or a political party is a Tughlaq act,” he said.