As Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu completes half of his tenure on Thursday, among the major tasks at hand are building the state capital Amaravati and completing Polavaram project which may well decide his political fortunes in 2019 when Andhra Pradesh goes to polls. Development of Amaravati has virtually remained a non-starter in the last two years and it could take at least six more months before any work on the capital actually begins.
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Except the five blocks in the newly-built Interim Government Complex at Velagapudi, there is nothing else to show in the new capital, though grandiose plans remain on paper. The Chief Minister is also unhappy with the way the Polavaram multipurpose project works are progressing despite his weekly reviews.
Only last week did the Centre agree to release over Rs 2,981 crore for the project even as the state government sent a revised estimate pegging the total project cost at Rs 40,450 crore, including the land acquisition, rehabilitation and resettlement component of over Rs 28,000 crore.
The Centre, however, has been repeatedly telling that it will bear Rs 16,000 crore cost estimate prior to the declaration of Polavaram as a national project under the AP Reorganisation Act.
If the Centre does not agree to bear the full cost as per the 2016 revised estimates, the project could well be in a limbo. The monetary aspect apart, inter-state disputes with Odisha and Chhattisgarh have to be settled before Polavaram can become a reality by 2018.
If Amaravati and Polavaram do not happen by 2018 or early 2019, Chandrababu may suffer politically, observers feel. Another critical issue for him will be the backward class reservation for the Kapu community, an election promise he has to necessarily fulfill.
It’s an irrefutable fact, which even Chandrababu acknowledged many a time, that the Telugu Desam Party rode to power in 2014 due to the support of Kapus, particularly in the two Godavari districts.
But, the BC reservation for Kapus cannot happen without a constitutional amendment and that could prove tricky. Naidu has promised many things for certain other castes as well and they too require constitutional amendments.
And, last but not the least, every issue related to the state bifurcation — be it the distribution of government staff, sharing of river waters, division of assets and institutions — still remains unresolved.
According to critics, the Chief Minister could do little in the last 30 months to settle pending disputes with the neighbouring state and if things don’t move swiftly in next 30 months, he may suffer electorally.