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Amaravati: The Rise and Stagnation of Andhra Pradesh’s Capital

In 2014, the Andhra Pradesh government, led by Chandrababu Naidu, initiated the ambitious project of developing Amaravati as the new capital city following the state’s bifurcation. The decision, supported by all political parties, aimed to establish Amaravati between Guntur and Vijayawada, encompassing an area of 217.23 square kilometers, with a seed capital area of 16.94 square kilometers. The city was planned to incorporate 31 towns within Mangalagiri, Tullur, and Tadepalli. Amaravati is strategically located 12 kilometers southwest of Vijayawada and 24 kilometers north of Guntur.

Innovative Land Acquisition and Initial Progress

The land for the new capital was acquired innovatively through agreements with local farmers, securing 30,000 acres from 25,000 farmers within just 60 days. On October 22, 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for Amaravati’s construction, followed by M. Venkaiah Naidu, the then-Union Urban Development Minister, who laid the foundation for the Andhra Pradesh Administration Building Complex on October 28, 2016. By March 2, 2017, the Legislative Assembly commenced, marking the beginning of the administrative functions in Amaravati.

Significant Developments and Infrastructure Plans

Since 2017, notable progress was made in constructing temporary assembly and secretariat buildings. By 2019, the High Court building was operational, and efforts to develop permanent accommodations for government officials had begun. The construction of MLA and MLC quarters reached 80% completion, while the buildings for IAS and IPS officers were 90% complete. Additionally, the quarters for Group 3 and Group 4 employees were nearing completion, and the Judge’s Quarters construction was underway.

Infrastructure development was a top priority, with a six-lane seeded access road almost complete, requiring only 5 kilometers to connect to National Highway 16. Internal road construction had also begun, alongside an underground water supply pipeline, with 30% of this work completed. The foundation of a proposed 50-story building, intended to be the world’s largest and most beautiful secretariat, was completed, featuring three towers, two of which would have 42 floors each. These buildings were planned to be iconic structures in Seed Capital.

Stalled Progress and Challenges

Despite the initial momentum, development in Amaravati came to a halt following a change in government. The YCP administration proposed the concept of three capitals, leading to a suspension of ongoing projects. For four and a half years, the partially constructed buildings and infrastructure projects were abandoned, leading to significant deterioration. The lack of maintenance has resulted in overgrown weeds, water stagnation, and inaccessibility to construction sites. Contractors who initially waited for work to resume eventually left.

Official Statements and Financial Implications

According to officials, 270 square kilometers were allocated for Amaravati’s construction, with 30% of the land designated for parks and communal use. The plan included constructing 1,600 kilometers of roads. By the time the projects were halted, works worth Rs 36,960 crore were in various stages of completion. Officials from the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) indicated that 77% of the works would have been completed had the construction continued. The first phase of road construction alone involved an expenditure of Rs. 12,986 crores, and land acquisition costs amounted to Rs. 12,545 crores.

Current State and Future Prospects

Presently, the abandoned developments in Amaravati have resulted in a significant loss of public funds. Partially completed buildings and infrastructure projects stand neglected, with allegations of land acquisition scams by the previous YSRCP government leading to legal proceedings by the Crime Investigation Department (CID). The return of the TDP government, led by Chandrababu Naidu, brings a renewed promise to resume the capital’s development. However, the challenges of addressing unfinished constructions, deteriorated infrastructure, and additional financial requirements remain pressing concerns.

Conclusion

Amaravati’s journey from an ambitious capital city project to its current state of stagnation highlights the complexities of large-scale urban development. The Chandrababu Naidu government now faces the daunting task of reviving the city’s construction, addressing the financial and infrastructural challenges, and restoring public trust. The future of Amaravati hinges on effective governance, strategic planning, and transparent execution to fulfill its envisioned role as Andhra Pradesh’s capital.

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