Hyderabad: The G.N. Rao-led expert committee formed to look into Andhra Pradesh’s development has recommended the state government to have Visakhapatnam as the executive capital and Kurnool (in Rayalaseema region) as the legal capital, where the High Court would be.
The recommendations are on the same lines of what chief minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy has said earlier this week in the assembly, and will completely undo everything that former chief minister and Telugu Desam Party supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu had planned for Amaravati, which was to be developed as a global city.
Addressing a press conference, G.N. Rao, a former IAS officer, said that the committee has recommended the AP government to decentralize development by having three capital cities for legislature, executive and judiciary and “put the available resources to the best use with concern on environment and balanced regional growth". The committee report has also suggested that the chief minister’s office also function from Vishakhatnam.
“Certain functions of the capital wanted to be removed. The secretariat we suggested to move to Visakhapatnam and also provide a bench (of the High Court) at both Amaravati and Visakhapatnam. The legislative capital will be in Amravati," said Rao, who also added that Visakhapatnam and Amaravati will both also have High Court benches.
“The budget and winter sessions of the Assembly will be held at Amaravati and Visakhapatnam, and the Raj Bhavan and the assembly will be located between Mangalagiri and Nagarjuna Univesity (in the capital region area) which is not flood prone," said a press release form the AP government. When asked about Amaravati’s future, Rao, however, stressed that Amaravati will continue to remain as the capital.
“Taking the Karnataka model into account, the state will be divided into four zones with Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam forming the north zone, followed by East and West Godavari districts and Krishna as the central coastal region. Guntur, Prakasam and Nellore coming under south costal the four south western districts forming Rayalaseema. The four regions will have a commissionerate which will take care of all the issues of the respective regions," stated the release.
Earlier, Reddy this week in the assembly dropped hints that the state might get three new capitals instead of one. During a seven-day assembly session, he had mentioned earlier that Vishakhapatnam and Kurnool cities could also be considered to divide the functioning between Amaravati and those two places.
The committee, which was formed in September, “has taken into consideration all the aspects and has toured all the regions and had taken public opinion receiving 30,000 representations and has extensively toured the 29 villages and has recommended returning the land where there is no need", mentioned the release.
The recommendations, if implemented, will completely turn around what Naidu had planned to develop in Amaravati. During his previous term (2014-19), he had planned for a Start-up area, and three grand structures for secretariat, assembly and High Court in Amaravati.
Naidu’s government had pooled in about 33,000 acres of farm lands in the capital region from farmers, promising them land in the capital apart from giving them an income every month to make up the loss of agricultural income they would incur. The Committee headed by G.N. Rao, include Viajy Mohan. R Annjali Mohan, Dr Mahavir, Dr Subba Rao and Arnachalam had submitted its report to the government here on Friday.
Ever since the Reddy-led YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) came to power this may, Amaravati has suffered one setback after another. From the World Bank withdrawing its funding to the start-up area project being terminated, Reddy has majorly undone Naidu’s pet project of building the Amaravati capital city. The Startup area project that was planned in Amaravati by Naidu was terminated by the AP government recently.
The Singapore consortium that partnered the government for the project pulled out of it. The 1,700-acre (in the core area of Amaravati) Startup area project was to be undertaken by the Singapore Amaravati Investment Holdings (SAIH), which had last year formalized its collaboration with the AP government to jointly master-develop the startup area with the Amaravati Development Corp. (ADC), a state government agency.
That development was preceded by the World Bank and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank withdrawing their $500 million funding in July (based on a request from the Centre for the same). “If Jagan wants to destroy AP and its development, then so be it," remarked a TDP leader, who did not want to be quoted.