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Monday, March 30, 2020

Andhra Pradesh Assembly clears proposal for three state capitals

The move to shift the capital was staunchly opposed by former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu's TDP.

Written by Sreenivas Janyala | Hyderabad | Updated: January 20, 2020 2:14:26 pm
andhra pradesh, andhra pradesh three capital, andhra pradesh assmebly, andhra pradesh three capital bill, jagan mohan reddy, chandrababu Naidu Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy (PTI Photo/File)

Amid protests from the Opposition, the Andhra Pradesh Assembly Monday approved a proposal to create three state capitals — Visakhapatnam, Kurnool, and Amravati — to help decentralised development.

The Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Equal Development of All Regions Act, 2020, was introduced by Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development B Satyanarayana. Finance Minister B Rajendranath initiated a discussion on the Bill and stated that the government wants to introduce zonal development by dividing the state into four zones with each zone having three-four districts to ensure balanced development.

“We will establish zonal development boards which will recommend and accelerate growth and development,” Rajendranath said. “We are constituting Amaravati Metropolitan Region which will have legislative functions which means Amaravati will be the Legislative Capital. The Executive Capital will be Visakhapatnam while Kurnool Urban Development area will be the Judicial Capital,” he said.

“Raj Bhavan and Secretariat will be moved to Visakhapatnam,” he told the Assembly.

Read | Explained: How Andhra’s concept of three capitals is inspired by South Africa

The government thwarted any opposition to the Bill by revealing names of several TDP leaders who allegedly purchased land in Amaravati after getting inside information that it would be declared as the state’s capital during Naidu’s tenure. Finance Minister B Rajendranath asked how MLAs, MPs, ex-MLAs and leaders of TDP living in Anantapur or other far off districts knew about interior villages in Guntur district where they purchased land just before then TDP government declared 29 villages in Guntur and Krishna district as Amaravati capital region.

“There was obviously insider trading. The then CM Chandrababu Naidu breached the oath of secrecy by revealing to some people his Amaravati plan which enabled TDP leaders to purchase lands.” Rajendranath said. “TDP says it was its vision to develop Amaravati as a grand capital but it has reduced it to real estate deals. We have so far unearthed the scam in 4070 acres and we believe it is just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. Speaker T Sitaram directed the state government to conduct a probe into the allegations of insider trading in Amaravati to which Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy agreed. The government may order a CID probe soon. There were heated exchanges between ministers and TDP MLAs during the session with the Speaker losing his cool on former TDP minister K Atchannaidu.

Ahead of the cabinet meeting today, several TDP leaders were taken into preventive custody in Amaravati, Vijayawada, and Guntur. TDP workers and farmers protesting the government’s decision were prevented from organising protests in the 29 villages in Amaravati leading to tension. Chief Minister Reddy’s convoy took a different route to avoid the protesters in Amravati and security has been tightened.

The AP cabinet met before the special Assembly started. The cabinet approved the high-power committee’s report for decentralised development. The cabinet also decided to increase the compensation paid to farmers of the Amaravati capital region. It was decided to increase the compensation from Rs 2,500 to Rs 5,000 per month and increased the lease period for tenant farmers from 10 years to 15 years.

The cabinet also scrapped the AP Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA) which was formed by the previous TDP regime to oversee the development of Amaravati as the new capital. The YSRCP government has instead decided to establish Amravati Metropolitan Regional Development Authority.

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