In view of the recent developments in Amaravati, including the termination of the startup area by state government, Telugu Desam Party (TDP) national president and former Andhra Pradesh chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu will undertake a tour on 28 November of the upcoming capital city and will also meet farmers who gave up their lands for its development.
Naidu’s decision to visit the upcoming capital, which has suffered setbacks after the current YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government came to power this year in May, is significant as it will happen in between his ongoing internal party review meetings for which he is touring AP. A senior TDP leader said that the former chief minister will try to rake up the issue of Amaravati’s development in a big way, given that the idea of building the capital was Naidu’s.
“Last week, one of our MPs in the Lok Sabha, Jaydev Galla, had raised an issue in the Parliament that Amaravati was not present in the political map, which made the Centre correct it and now the upcoming capital is on the map. The current state government is being dismissive about Amaravati, but now that Amaravati is officially AP’s upcoming capital, YSRCP cannot do anything about it," said a senior TDP leader, who did not want to be quoted.
Ever since YSRCP president Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy became chief minister (after winning 151 out of 175 assembly seats in the 2019 state elections), Amaravati has suffered one setback after another. The biggest one was the World Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank withdrawing their $500 million funding for the Amaravati project (based on the Centre’s request for the same).
More recently, the AP government terminated the startup area, which was to be developed by a Singapore consortium (in partnership with the government), which pulled out of it. The 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.
SAIH, a joint venture company that is wholly-owned by Ascendas-Singbridge Andhra Investment Holdings and Sembcorp Development India, and ADC were to develop the startup area, over a 1,700 acre core area of Amaravati. It was largely Naidu’s idea. In another instance and the latest development over Amaravati, the AP government cancelled the land allotment to United Arab Emirates (UAE)-based Lulu group, which had decided to invest ₹2,300 crore in AP by building an international convention centre, shopping mall and a five-star hotel.
“Even six months after the elections, Naidu has developed more dissatisfaction among people. TDP should have got at least 25% of the seats (in the 2019 assembly elections) in the Krishna and Guntur districts (between which Amaravati lies) if people were content with the new capital, but that did not happen," said Prof. E. Venkatesu, a faculty member from the University of Hyderabad’s political science department.
He added that Naidu’s idea of a capital city today has no legitimacy, as about 33,000 acres of land from farmers was taken for the purpose. “It is being developed on what is called the ‘rice bowl’ of AP," he added.