Is Jaganmohan Reddy planning to shift the capital of the state out of Amaravati? That is the impression you get if you heard Municipal Administration minister Botsa Satyanarayana in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday. He was emphatic that Amaravati’s vulnerability to floods is an issue for the Jagan government.
“The Sivaramakrishnan committee had said that Amaravati is not a safe place to be the state capital. Today with the floods, it is being witnessed for all of you to see. So we need to discuss all these issues. We have found that it is going to be an expensive affair to construct flyovers, buildings and other structures. If in another place, it will cost Rs 1 lakh, in Amaravati it will cost 2 lakh. We need to create additional channels to take out the water. A lot of public money will be wasted,” said Satyanarayana, one of the seniormost ministers in the Jagan government.
Immediately after winning the elections, Jagan had termed Amaravati as a huge scam, a case of insider trading where a number of senior Telugu Desam leaders had benefited. He ordered all civil works to stop in Amaravati and this has led to the real estate sector crashing in the state capital since May 23. An acre of land that earlier cost between Rs 1.5 to 2 crore depending on the location, is now going abegging for one-fourth the amount. There are no takers for close to 25000 apartments that are in different stages of construction in the area and distress sale is being reported. Travel anywhere around Amaravati and Vijayawada and you find construction labour grappling with unemployment.
Even among the bureaucracy, there is little interest in Amaravati. This despite the fact that under Chandrababu Naidu, fancy residential apartments were being constructed for bureaucrats.
“There is no enthusiasm for them any more. Who will want to live in a place that has no life beyond a government Secretariat,” a senior IAS officer told Filter Kaapi.
It is obvious that unlike Chandrababu Naidu who envisioned Amaravati to be built at a cost of Rs 50000 crore to make it the world’s best capital, Jagan wants it to be no more than an administrative pitstop. It showed in two decisions that followed his taking charge as CM. The state budget allocated a meagre Rs 500 crore towards Amaravati and then the World Bank and Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) pulled out of the Amaravati project.
When Filter Kaapi asked Alla Ramakrishna Reddy, MLA from Mangalagiri in whose constituency much of the capital region falls if the government planned to move out of Amaravati, he said, “No, our CM has said Amaravati is our capital. We will work out of the temporary secretariat that has been unfortunately constructed in a flood zone. During the monsoon, the entire place is full of water but what can we do? It is already constructed.”
The worst hit will be the farmers who expected handsome returns for the 33000 acres of fertile land they gave to the government. The Jagan government has poured cold water – quite literally this monsoon season – on those hopes.
But the TDP that sees Amaravati as its legacy, has slammed Satyanarayana for his remarks, calling them baseless and irresponsible. In a statement, TDP general secretary and Naidu’s son, Nara Lokesh said, “Building a capital of any magnitude requires investment in terms of finances, land and people. To write off a city citing high cost goes to show the lack of interest and commitment of the state government to build Amaravati. This is a legacy that the YSR Congress party is willing to discontinue depriving the Telugu people of a capital they can call their own.”