Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday laid the foundation stone of Andhra Pradesh's capital city Amaravati at a village in Guntur district, in a mega event for which the state government made elaborate arrangements.
Here are all the facts you need to know about the development:
Around five lakh people attended the function at Uddandarayunipalem village on the banks of river Krishna. After performing the 'shila nyas' for the capital city — about 40 kms from Vijayawada, the commercial capital of Andhra Pradesh, Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the gathering.
With Union minister M Venkaiah Naidu providing a Telugu translation, Modi spoke of urban development being the need of the hour, and exhorted his audience to view this as an opportunity and not a problem. The usual criticism of the preceding UPA government at the Centre was followed by words of encouragement and congratulation for Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu for all his work.
Among the dignitaries in attendance were Andhra Pradesh Governor ESL Narasimhan, Tamil Nadu Governor K Rosaiah, Assam and Nagaland Governor Padmanabha Acharya, Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao — who notably buried the hatchet with his Andhra Pradesh counterpart — Central ministers Nirmala Sitaraman, YS Chowdary and Bandaru Dattatreya. Ministers and delegations from Singapore and Japan also attended the event. More than 8,000 police personnel were deployed as part of security arrangements for the grand event.
Amaravati, is situated in Guntur district, was once the seat of power of Satavahana rulers. Apart from the historical and cultural importance, the city is also centrally located. A report in The Indian Express notes that it is "easily accessible from north and south, coastal districts and the Rayalaseema region".
Chief minister Naidu has promised that it will be a world-class and 'people's capital'. The city will be spread over 54,000 acres and in 10 years will have the state secretariat, high court and legislative assembly, among other things. Singapore government agencies have prepared the master plans for the three-layered capital -- seed capital, capital city and capital region. While the Centre would provide funds for construction of legislature buildings as per the Andhra Pradesh Re-organisation Act, the state government has plans to set up hubs of sports, entertainment and in other fields to promote economic activity, an official release said earlier. According to IANS, Telugu Association of North America (TANA), the oldest and the largest association of Telugu people outside the Telugu states, is also raising funds for the development of the city through a 'My Brick - My Amaravati' campaign. It will accept donations from all non-resident Telugus who are interested in contributing. Interested public can sponsor 'bricks' with each brick at Rs 10.
As per a call given by Naidu, soil and water from 16,000 villages in the state and prominent pilgrim centres in the country have been brought to the capital region to be used in the construction of the capital city. The idea is to promote a sense of belongingness among the people.
The biggest plus point of the whole project is the new scheme devised to acquire the required land. According to a report in the CNBC-TV18, of the total required 54,000 acres, the government owns about 21,000 acres. Over 23,000 farmers in 29 villages own the balance. The government has used a unique land pooling scheme to overcome difficulties of acquiring this land. According to The Indian Express, the government has bought 31,000 acres from 18,000 farmers. The farmers are to get Rs 50,000 per acre per year for 10 years and also 1,250 sq yards of residential space and 200 sq yards of commercial space in Amaravati for every acre they gave up. The CNBC-TV18 report estimates that the land acquisition in the normal route would "have cost the AP government more than Rs 7500 crore and have taken several years".
Yes, there is opposition to the plan. Naidu, whose Telugu Desam Party (TDP) is a partner in BJP-led NDA government at the Centre, is under fire from the opposition for failing to get the special status despite the promise made by Modi during poll campaign. According to a report in Deccan Chronicle, the leaders of the Congress and YSR Congress won't be attending the function today. Meanwhile, CPM has termed the creation of Amaravati a scam in the making as the government's plan to create green zones will mean undue benefit to only the business community who is ready to invest in the capital city. More importantly, a section of residents in Rayalaseema, a backward region, feel they have been given a short-shrift by the "unilateral decision" to set up the state capital at Amaravati. According to this Times of India report, a software professional has even launched an online campaign against Amaravati with a website 'We Are Against Amaravati'.
With inputs from agencies
Updated Date: Oct 23, 2015 07:44 AM