Hyderabad: Days after the World Bank (WB) announced backing out of Amaravati capital city project, by withdrawing its $300 million funding, officials from the Andhra Pradesh government said rampant corruption besides flouting of various socio-economic norms under the previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government, led by former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, were the reasons behind the agency’s move," claimed officials from the AP government.
The then TDP government had invited tenders for infrastructure development even before the World Bank loan details were finalized, said an official with the state government, requesting anonymity.
Other government officials, who also did not want to be quoted, said a World Bank team that toured the proposed region marked for development from 13-17 September, 2017, found irregularities in the tender process and also that it favoured contractors.
According to the official, the team found numerous irregularities in land pooling, utilisation of verdant agriculture land for other purposes, serious environmental violations and in the plan of the new proposed capital as it affected the course of the Krishna River, among other issues.
The CRDA (Capital Region Development Authority) was asked for an explanation after the team finished its tour of the region.
The Centre has reportedly expressed dismay over the World Bank Team inspections even before the loan was finalized, said the official.
The World Bank, in a press release, however, said that the government on 15 July withdrew its request to the World Bank to finance the proposed 'Amaravati Sustainable Infrastructure and Institutional Development Project', due to which it backed out. "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 June 27, 2019," it added.
This is the first time since last week, when news broke out about World Bank withdrawing the funding, that state government officials have commented on the development. “An elaborate response is being prepared by the government to debate in the ongoing assembly session," the official informed.
After its inspection, the team had submitted its report on 27 September and amended it on 27 November in 2017, following which a final report was filed on 29 March this year, said the official.
The team had to take up investigations following a spate of complaints from social organisations and voluntary organisations.
After the bifurcation of Andhra into Telangana in 2014, the then chief minister Chandrababu Naidu decided to shift out of the joint capital, Hyderabad, and construct the new capital for Andhra Pradesh in Amaravati. Situated between Guntur and Vijayawada, a total of 33,000 acres of farmland was acquired for the project. But the government faced resistance from farmers in a few villages in the capital region who are till date opposing the land acquisition for the project.
The official, however, said the World Bank was not averse to extending the same loan to the current Andhra government, should it mention its priorities. “The World Bank has given enough indications pointing at compensating the dropped $300 million loan for capital city to other sectors and there is every possibility of an increase in the quantum of aid," he added.
A TDP leader, who did not want to be quoted, however, said unless and until an urban capital is there in a state, it will not prosper. “Will social organisations who complained, help in building a new capital or help in creating jobs as an alternative? Nobody will come to the state if we don’t have a new capital" he said, rubbishing corruption allegations against the TDP.