• Capital trifurcation: a history in the making?
  • Amaravati farmers agitate over proposed Capital trifurcation.
  • Farmers to pay price for Ex-Cm’s blunder!?
  • What is in the Sivarama Krishnan Committee report?
  • G.N.Rao and BCG submit their report
  • Do three committees recommend three capitals?

Background

 ‘Separate Telangana State’ protest changed the fate of Andhra Pradesh, a protest so intense that it claimed lives of hundreds of agitators, students and people from all walks of life. The now Telangana Chief Minister K.Chandrasekhar Rao sat for a fast unto death while the Telangana region burned with the demand for bi-furcation. To counter the protest, political leaders and student organisations from Seemandhra region staged a ‘United Andhra’ protest, which was no match for the iron-willed people of Telangana, who were ready to sacrifice their lives. With no other alternative and to appease the people of Telangana, the Central Government led by UPA drafted the ‘AP Reorganisation 2014’ bill and the Parliament approved the bill. The President signed his assent and the bill turned into an Act.

  ‘AP Reorganisation Act 2014’ successfully enabled the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into two states; Telangana with 10 districts and Andhra Pradesh with 13 districts. The financially enriched capital city Hyderabad would be the capital for both the states for a period of 10 years.

   Subsequently elections were conducted and the TRS led by K. Chandrasekhar Rao swept the elections in Telangana and TDP led by N.Chandrababu Naidu came to power in Andhra Pradesh.

Search for a new Capital

  After coming to power, the burden of identifying and developing the new capital fell on the Government’s shoulders. The Central Government appointed a committee headed by retired IAS officer and former Home Secretary Siva Rama Krishnan to survey and identify the new capital city whilst suggesting measures to develop Andhra Pradesh. The Committee toured and extensively researched the geographical, social and financial scenario of Andhra Pradesh. The Committee submitted their report to Central Home Minister Rajnath Singh. At this juncture, even before the public submission of the committee report, the Andhra Pradesh Government was eager in establishing the Vijayawada-Guntur region as the new capital. Resolution was passed in accordance and the region in and around Amaravati was chosen as the capital. Was this a historic move or a historic blunder? What was in the Committee report?

Sivaramakrishnan Committee report

 The Committee report was totally contrast to TDP Government’s aspiration to develop Amaravati as the new capital. The Committee was against the setting up of capital between Vijayawada-Guntur region and opined it would bring up economic and environmental problems. A brief synopsis of the report:

  • The capital could be between Marturu and Vinukonda.
  • It also proposed Musunuru, Mangalagiri, Macherla, Gollapally, Vinukonda, Marturu, Donakonda, Pulichintala as suitable for Capital city construction.
  • Referred three zones to set up the capital.
  • Opposed the building of Super City or Smart City.
  • Said that capital between Vijayawada-Guntur is incorrect because it would bring up economic and environmental problems.
  • It also opined that farmers and labourers are more in Krishna and Guntur districts and would make it difficult for land acquisition and would benefit only realtors. The traffic in Vijayawada, Guntur, Mangalagiri and Tenali cities is likely to be higher.
  • Road connectivity should be increased on the banks of river Krishna.
  • It suggested dividing Andhra Pradesh into four parts. They should be Uttara Andhra (Northern Andhra), Madhya Andhra (Central Andhra), Coastha Andhra (Coastal Andhra) and Rayalaseema.
  • As per the committee, Uttara Andhra comprises Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam and East Godavari, Madhya Andhra comprises West Godavari, Krishna and Guntur districts, Coastha Andhra comprises Nellore and Prakasam districts and Rayalaseema comprises YSR Kadapa, Kurnool, Anantapur and Chittoor districts.
  • Vishakhapatnam should be set up as a high-tech zone and 109 offices should be set up in its zone.
  • High Court should be set up in Visakhapatnam and a High Court Bench should be in either Anantapur or Kurnool.
  • Kalahasthi Zone to be set up as the Railway Zone. Guntur-Chennai Central Railway corridor to be set up.
  • Assembly, Secretariat, the Chief Minister’s office should be set up in the capital city.
  • It urged to do justice to Kurnool, as it was a capital in the past for the state of Andhra.
  • Mangalagiri area has less reserved forest.  

 The Committee report opposed setting up of capital in Guntur-Krishna region. One can assume the selection of Amaravati as capital is rather political than scientific. The TDP government claimed Amaravati was selected based on its rich heritage and history. It was the seat of governance of the Satavahana Empire.     

TDP during its 2019 election campaign strongly laid allegations against YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, if elected to power he will kill Amaravati, they cried. This campaign failed to work in TDP’s favour, YS Jagan grabbed power from TDP with a mind boggling majority. The suspicion that TDP created still existed and was further strengthened by the Government’s wide array of statements. Feelers were sent into the public to test their stance on the capital. Just like a chemical experiment, the Government tried various formulae, finally on the ultimate day of the Winter session of the AP Assembly, the Chief Minister declared a vague statement on the possibility of Capital trifurcation, “We might have three capitals; legislative capital, executive capital and judicial capital similar to the South African model”, he said. He brought into limelight the committee constituted by the State Government led by G.N.Rao, a retired IAS officer.

    At this juncture, the opposition pre-occupied by various issues in the State, were struck by an unprecedented possible move. This not only shocked them, but also surprised the whole state. The Opposition questioned the Chief Minister’s intention and alleged foul play. “How can the Chief Minister declare before the report submission by the Committee?” Chandrababu questioned.

     The G.N.Rao Committee finally submitted its report.

G.N.Rao Committe report

      It is no surprise that the recommendations on the distribution of Capital functions are similar to the Chief Minister’s statement on the last day of the Assembly session.

  • Recommended that the Secretariat and the Chief Minister’s camp-office be moved to the Visakhapatnam metropolitan region.
  • A high court bench besides a legislative building for summer should also be established in the region.
  • Did not recommended the location for a Capital city, but only Capital functions conscious of the overall development of the backward North Coastal region, some of the upland areas in central coastal region and Rayalaseema.
  • The government has already invested a lot in the Tullur region. Hence, recommended that it be fully developed and used department-wise. Since some zones are flood-prone, suggested that such areas be untouched and the rest developed.
  • In the Amaravati-Mangalagiri complex, the panel suggested that a High Court bench be set up while retaining the Legislative Assembly, ministers’ quarters, and Governor’s quarters.
  • For Rayalaseema, keeping in mind the Sribagh agreement and the demand of the people of the region for years, the panel had recommended that the High Court and allied courts be set up in Kurnool.
  • Recommended creating regional commissionerates for effective decentralised administration along the lines of Karnataka.
  • For this purpose, it suggested that a commissionerate could be set up in each of the four regions in the State; North Coastal comprising Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Vizag; Central Coastal region consisting of East and West Godavari districts and Krishna; South Coastal region comprising Guntur, Prakasam and Nellore and Rayalaseema comprising Chittoor, Kurnool, Kadapa and Anantapur.
  • 900 km from Srikakulam to Chittoor could have urban settlements by the roads to rev up the economy.
  • Strengthen canal system in areas near rivers, improve connectivity.

  The panel formed on September 13, toured all the 13 districts, covering approximately 10,600 km and received around 35,000 suggestions.

  Commenting on the report, Panchayat Raj Minister Peddireddy Ramachandra Reddy has opined that decentralised development is the only solution for various problems in the State.

  In addition to the G.N.Rao committee, the Government approached Boston Consulting Group for their expert advice and suggestions for decentralised development.

    Boston Consulting Group report

  • Recommended the construction of a brown field capital instead of a green field capital.
  • The existing economy would hinder the construction of a green field capital.
  • 32 exiting green field capitals are studied, out of them only 2 were financially successful.
  • Categorised 13 districts into 6 regions.
  • North Andhra ( Srikakulam, Vijayanagaram and Visakha), South Andhra ( Prakasam and Nellore) , Godavari delta ( East Godavari and West Godavari) , Krishna delta (Krishna and Guntur), East Rayalaseema ( YSR Kadapa and Chittor)  and West Rayalaseema ( Kurnool and Anantapur).
  • Recommended the setting up of capital in Visakhapatnam, Amaravati and Kurnool.
  • History and People’s sentiments kept in consideration.
  • 60 to 80 percent lands in Krishna and Godavari regions are in cultivation.
  • Using these lands for construction activities would disturb the ecosystem and would cause deficit in crop produce.
  • Around 20 percent lands in Rayalaseema are in cultivation.
  • Recommended the inter linking of Godavari and Penna rivers.

Analysis of Secretariat data

  • Around one lakh people visit Secretariat every year. 75 percent visit for CM relief fund.
  • The rest are contractors for bill payments and government employees seeking transfers.

Farmers agitate

    Farmers in the capital region started agitating a day after the Chief Minister’s proposal. They are of the opinion that a systematic ploy to kill the capital city is in place. They are questioning the Chief Minister’s varying stand on the capital. ‘Why didn’t the YSRC party state in its election manifesto state the possibility of a capital change? The Chief Minister who was then the Opposition leader supported the new capital and is now taking a U-turn with an ulterior motive’, they allege. ‘We have agreed to give up lands expecting better future for our families. This proposal is dooming our future. We are prepared to give our lives if injustice is done’. The agitations are going on for a month and yet there is no clear information from the Government.    

Opposition’s allegations

     The opposition and united people’s organisations allege foul play. They claim the Government is shifting the capital for one man’s ill intent. Chandrababu Naidu claims CM Jagan is exerting revenge on him and in turn exerting revenge on the people of Andhra. The Government is accepting its failure and inability to develop the capital. How can the Government develop three capitals when it cannot develop one? This is a mockery of democracy, Government is a continuous process and any new Administration must honour their predecessors.   

The Government’s clarification

   Speaking on various occasions, representatives from the Government have made their stand clear. They are of the opinion that the state cannot bare the expenses for the construction of a Mega International standard Capital. For a state already reeling under two lakh crore debt, spending another one lakh for the construction of a new capital isn’t viable. Boosting the economy through minimum expenditure is their top priority. They are questioning the fickle nature of Chandrababu who previously requested the Central Government for one lakh crore assistance to contruct the capital city and is now claiming the capital is a self financed model.

   They claim it was Chandrababu Naidu that has cheated the farmers by projecting a false image and creating hype and speculative boom in land prices.

The Government is investigating methods to do justice to the farmers who have sacrificed their land. We will honour the agreement with the previous Government. Apparently the Government is planning to extend the yearly ex-gratia for some more years. We will develop the plots given as exchange for their land. The Government is planning to upgrade Amaravati to a municipality and include the capital region villages.

One section of farmers is in talks with the Government and has agreed to the Government’s proposal.

The big picture

     After studying the three reports, one can assume that decentralised development was put on the forefront. Sivaramakrishnan Committee recommended the setting of one capital, while G.N.Rao and Boston reports suggest decentralised administration as well as decentralised development.

    Decentralised development must be the top priority of any government to solve regional disparities. The dire situation our state presently is in is largely to be blamed on centralised development. We have lost Hyderabad, a primary source of income for the state. Starting from scratch is an uphill task. For the construction of a capital, existing resources have to be utilised and infrastructure has to be developed.

    The basic infrastructure needed for quick development includes proper air, sea and rail connectivity. It is no secret that the present lone capital Amaravati is far lacking in these amenities. It would take at least take 10 to 15 years to develop and provide these amenities. It is also important to keep in mind that ‘Rome was not built in a day’. 

    Majority of the people living on bread earned through hardship seek basic amenities like food, water, shelter and proper clothing. The Uttarandhra and Rayalaseema regions still lack potable water and irrigation. Unemployment is a major issue. Landowners in these regions though rich on paper are forced to work as menial labour, often migrating to neighbouring states.      

Will justice be done?

The most affected persons in capital trifurcation would be the farmers who have sacrificed; delivering justice in line with their ambitions should be the top priority of the Government. At the same time realtors from various parts of the state have purchased lands and invested in and around the capital regions. Banking on the speculative boom in prices, consumers have purchased plots and houses at higher costs than the market value in Vijayawada and Guntur regions. They are a worried lot since their properties would suffer an imminent depreciation. Investors who have already spent crores of rupees, hoping to receive better returns are shell shocked. People in the Krishna-Guntur regions though mostly silent on the issue are a bit disappointed. They are of the opinion that by losing the executive would decrease the prominence and economy of their region.

How the Government manages to satisfy all these sections is a mystery yet to unravel.              

  • Deeksha Prasad.G
  • Editor in Chief

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