Hyderabad: The Andhra Pradesh government on Friday set up a five-member committee, comprising urban planning experts, to review developmental plans initiated so far (by the government) and suggest a comprehensive strategy for the all-round development of the state, including the upcoming capital Amaravati. The committee is to submit its report in six weeks.
The move comes about two months after the World Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), both withdrawing from the Amaravati capital city project, put the future of the city in question. Both the financial institutions together were to pump in $500 million into the project, while the state government was to fund the same with an additional $200 million.
The World Bank’s decision to back out of the Amaravati project has become a major issue, especially between the ruling YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government, led by chief minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, and the opposition Telugu Desam party (TDP).
Retired IAS officer G. Nageswara Rao will be the convenor of the committee that will have Mahaveer, Professor of Planning, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi; Anjali Mohan, Urban and Regional Planner; Shivananda Swamy, CEPT, Ahmedabad; K.T. Ravindran, retired professor, Delhi School of Architecture, and K.V. Arunachalam, retired Chief Urban Planner, Chennai, as its members.
The idea of a new capital city was the brainchild of former Andhra chief minister and TDP supremo Chandrababu Naidu, who decided to build a new capital city from scratch instead of sharing Hyderabad with Telangana, which was bifurcated from AP in 2014. Both states were to share Hyderabad as capital till 2024, but Naidu wanted Amravati, situated between Vijayawada and Guntur, to be developed as a grand capital, complete with water fronts.
The previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government, under Naidu, had acquired 33,000 acres of agricultural lands from farmers, giving them compensation and also a part of land in the new capital itself. However, with the WB and AIIB withdrawing, it is to be seen what the state government will do to gather funds for the project.
When asked if the committee was set up specifically to look into the feasibility of Amaravati, AP government officials refused to comment. “We will have to see what the committee report says," said an official who did not want to be quoted.
In an earlier press release, the World Bank said that the government of India on 15 July withdrew its request for financing the proposed ‘Amaravati Sustainable Infrastructure and Institutional Development Project’, due to which it exited the project.
“The World Bank’s board of executive directors has been informed that the proposed project is no longer under preparation following the government’s decision. The World Bank continues to support the state of Andhra Pradesh with (an) over $1 billion programme that covers the health, agriculture, energy and disaster management sectors. This includes a new $328 million support to the state’s health sector signed with the government of Andhra Pradesh on 27 June, 2019," it added.