Respecting "popular sentiment", Andhra Pradesh Government today selected the area around (rpt the area around) the historic city of Vijayawada as the state's new capital post bifurcation even as it unveiled grandiose plans for decentralised and comprehensive development of all regions.
The TDP-led government promised to build a "world-class" capital city involving the people so that it could be "proudly" called the "people's capital".
Vijayawada city, as such, will not be the capital but the area around will be developed into the new seat of power of the residuary state.
Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who made an announcement in the Assembly on the new capital, said, "The Cabinet met on September 1 and resolved to locate the capital city in a central place of the state, around Vijayawada, and go for decentralised development of the state with three mega cities and 14 smart cities. It is proposed to go for land pooling system to be worked out by a Cabinet sub-committee."
The government, in the process, trashed the report of the five-member expert committee headed by former Urban Development Secretary K Sivaramakrishnan that did not quite favour Vijayawada region for the capital.
The panel, appointed by the Centre to suggest alternatives for the capital of the truncated state which lost Hyderabad to recently-created Telangana state, submitted its report to the Union Home Ministry late last month.
"This decision of the state Cabinet is a reflection of the popular sentiment, and is affirmed by views expressed in representations received by the Sivaramakrishnan Committee. Nearly 50 per cent of the representations received by the committee favoured Vijayawada-Guntur region as the best location for the capital area," Naidu added.
The government, as resolved by the Cabinet, was of the opinion that interests of the entire state and its balanced development could be best served by locating the capital city at a central place around Vijayawada. This would enable equal access to people from all regions, the Chief Minister noted.
Leader of Opposition Y S Jaganmohan Reddy welcomed the decision and said his party would offer constructive suggestions on development of the new capital. But the YSR Congress chief expressed reservations over the proposed land pooling, saying it would encourage real-estate operators.
"Ideally, 30,000 acres of land is required for the capital. It will be advantageous if it is government land."
Naidu recalled that Prime Minister Narendra Modi, during election campaign in May, promised to help AP build a world-class capital that stood better than New Delhi.
"A vibrant capital city can act as a catalyst for economic development for the entire State and become a source of pride for all its citizens," the Chief Minister noted.
"We firmly believe that with full-fledged commitment and support from the Government of India in terms of policy and finances and also administrative assistance, we will build a model State that will become an economic powerhouse for the entire nation," Naidu added.
Meanwhile, the Assembly adopted a resolution requesting the Centre to implement "in letter and spirit" all provisions of the AP Reorganisation Act-2014 relating to development of the State.
It also wanted the Centre to implement at the earliest the assurances made in Parliament by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to "enable us to build the new Andhra Pradesh".
The Chief Minister, after making a statement on the new capital, moved the resolution, which also made critical reference about the bifurcation process.
"The Legislative Assembly records its disapproval of the process adopted for bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh without adequate consultation with and concurrence of the major stakeholders and without proper consideration for several adverse consequences.
"The Assembly affirms its abiding commitment to the wellbeing of the people of Andhra Pradesh through accelerated and balanced development of the State. The Assembly resolves to request the Government of India to take all measures required to create a level-playing field for the State by compensating for the disequilibrium created by bifurcation," the resolution said.
"The Assembly requests the Centre to provide the resources required for the establishment of a world-class capital city for the State of Andhra Pradesh."
The House urged the Union Government to provide necessary financial and policy support for faster and equitable development of AP and take necessary steps for completion of the Polavaram multi-purpose irrigation project within a period of four years.