With soil from the holy sites of Jerusalem and Mecca, and water from the Ganga and Godavari, the proposed site for the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region got a sprinkling of good vibes on Wednesday as wide-eyed villagers of Uddandarayunipalem witnessed the state machinery work overtime to get things in order for Thursday’s big event.
At 12:45 pm on Thursday, the foundation stone for the state’s new capital, Amaravati, will be laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
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Till last season, Uddandarayunipalem — 19-km from Vijayawada — was a quiet village where farmers grew bananas, sugarcane, and different vegetables.
But today, the small village with just 2,400 inhabitants is under national spotlight.
The place where the foundation stone will be laid — about 100 metres from river Krishna— is the place where the Andhra Pradesh Assembly will come up, and Uddandarayunipalem, also known as UD Palem, was chosen for its scenic location.
“The spot is also vastu-compliant and has positive vibes,” said Information Minister Dr P Raghunatha Reddy.
In January, the area was lush green with crops. Back then, a debate raged with a narrow road from Vijayawada to Tulluru dividing farmers on the issue of whether to give up their land or not. While those with land away from the river bank were more than ready, those closer to the river wanted more compensation. As months passed, most came around, barring a few.
Today, the narrow Vijayawada-Tulluru road stands as the upcoming capital’s lifeline. It also leads to Amaravati town, which is being developed separately as a cultural centre.
“Ever since I can remember, this area was filled with one crop or the other. Bananas, sugarcane, fruits and vegetables of all kinds grew here. But I guess you have to give up something to get something new. Everyone is looking forward to the new capital,” said Kiran Kumar, a student from Uddandarayunipalem.
The villagers, who had never witnessed such huge logistical mobilisation, massive tents, and hundreds of swanky SUVs zooming across the landscape a day before the important event, are hoping that the new capital city will be as grand as the preparations.
“When farmers voluntarily give up their land, there has to be a strong reason. Those who gave up did so in the hope of participating in building our capital. We hope it will be as grand and world class as the CM is promising,” said Suresh Reddy, a farmer, who gave up five acres.
On Wednesday afternoon, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu went on an aerial tour of the proposed capital region and sprinkled holy water and soil from sacred religious places all over the world, but particularly Andhra Pradesh.
“Today, holy water and soil — that is puttamatti — from 13,000 villages and 3,000 wards, besides sacred water and soil from all holy rivers of the world and India has been collected for the foundation ceremony. Not just one religion, all religions are involved. Water and soil was collected from Golden Temple of the Sikhs, Vaishnodevi shrine of the Hindus, and the Ajmer Dargah. We also collected soil from the birth places of great leaders like Mahatma Gandhi, Bhagat Singh, Subhas Chandra Bose, B R Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru. Water and soil was also brought from Mecca, Jerusalem, Mansarovar, and from the Bangarubaavi in Tirumala,” Naidu told reporters at the sprinkling drill that lasted several hours.
Claiming that the work for the new capital will begin immediately after the foundation stone is laid, he said,
“We will first begin with the roads.” “Amaravati is a very attractive place. If we work with discipline, maintain law and order, adopt good work culture, it will help us reach the goal of making a great capital city with ease,” he added.