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Jagan set on Vizag as ‘executive capital’ in decentralisation push, AP ‘explores legal options’

While former Andhra CM Chandrababu Naidu had wanted Amravati to be state capital & world class smart city, Reddy had floated idea of 3-capital state. HC has also decided in favour of Amravati.

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Hyderabad: Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy’s plans of having three capitals for the state may have run into a rough patch, but the CM is still keen to name Vizag the ‘executive capital’ of Andhra Pradesh, sources close to the Chief Minister have told ThePrint. While the Reddy government had withdrawn the laws for the setting up of three capitals in the state in November last year, sources said, the CM was still sticking to his earlier idea of having decentralised capitals in Andhra.

According to the sources, the CM’s team is exploring legal options to present another bill on decentralised capitals in the state assembly.

The government, while withdrawing the earlier laws, had said that a “better, comprehensive” version will soon be presented in the assembly.

Under earlier laws for establishing three state capitals, Visakhapatnam had been named as the executive capital of Andhra Pradesh, Amaravati as its legislative capital and Kurnool as the state’s judicial capital. However, the law — passed in 2020 — had attracted many petitions against it.

Over 60 petitions were filed in the High Court against the three-capital plan, many of which were from farmers’ groups in Amaravati, who had given their land under a land-pooling scheme for the capital, under previous CM Chandrababu Naidu.

The Naidu government had named Amaravati as the sole capital of the state after the bifurcation of Andhra and Telangana. The former CM had envisoned to build it as a world class smart city, similar to Singapore.

“Our Chief Minister (Jagan Reddy) is very keen and particular that Vizag must be the executive capital. There is no way Vizag can not be made the capital. Compared to Amaravati, Vizag is fairly developed, has a cosmopolitan culture and only some more work would make it easy to name it as capital,” a source in the Chief Minister’s team told ThePrint.

He added: “Once a state has a fully functioning capital, it would be easy to attract investments. No capital or confusion (over it) is also stopping investors from coming to the state.”

A second source pointed out that “Amaravati or Vijayawada (30 mins away) is just a few hours from Hyderabad. And when such an extremely developed city is at such a short distance, why would one prefer to invest here in Amaravati, which is nowhere in comparison?”

CM Reddy’s first ever visit to the World Economic Forum in Davos, last week, was also to attract investments for “cash strapped” Andhra Pradesh. The Chief Minister reportedly made deals worth over Rs 1.25 lakh crore, which even included those with companies of the Adani conglomerate.

Farmers protest

Following the Reddy government’s announcement of plans for three capitals, thousands of farmers from Amaravati region sat on a protest for over two years. The farmers had given their lands in the hope of better returns once Amaravati became a capital.

In a blow to the Reddy government, the Andhra Pradesh High Court in March asked the state government to develop Amaravati, as well as the surrounding capital region, as Andhra’s sole capital city, within six months, which the government termed to be an impossible task.

The Jagan government had maintained that making Amaravati the state’s sole capital or a smart city would be a 1 lakh crore project, which would be a huge burden on the state’s exchequer. The Chief Minister has also constantly stressed on how decentralisation is very important for development of all parts of the state.

“The idea is to stick to the original plan of having three capitals — there would be no change in that. We’re exploring all possible sides of legal options before we come back,” the second source quoted above said.

“The entire Vizag stretch, location and weather is also quite preferable over other areas. And it does not have a city like Hyderabad in just a few hours’ distance, which would also allow investors to consider investing here,” said the first source.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Performance matters, not my age, says 72-yr-old TDP chief Naidu as he aims to reclaim Andhra


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