TDP takes Amaravati to Parliament, to seek central intervention

After the withdrawal of Singapore consortium from the Amaravati start-up area city project on November 12, Finance Minister B Rajendranath Reddy made it clear that the government could not afford to develop the capital city at Amaravati as per the plan envisaged during the TDP regime.

The raging debate over the fate of Amaravati, the proposed capital city of Andhra Pradesh, is set to find its echo in Parliament. The Chandrababu Naidu-led Telugu Desam Party (TDP) has drawn up plans to take up the issue at the national level and raise it in Parliament during the upcoming winter session.

The opposition party will seek the Centre’s intervention to save the project which is being “deliberately buried” by the YSR Congress Party government headed by Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy.

The decision to take up the issue aggressively at the national level was taken at a meeting of the TDP Parliamentary Party meeting at Vundavalli near Vijawayada. The meeting was chaired by the party president Chandrababu Naidu who had conceived Amaravati as an ambitious river front capital city on a scale that India has “never seen before”.

Also read | YSRCP govt scraps Amaravati capital city startup area project

“We shall make use of every forum to raise the issue of Amaravati being dumped as the capital of Andhra. We will take up the issue in the Parliament during the Zero Hour or issue a notice for a discussion, so that the entire country should know what is happening to the dream capital of Amaravati at the ground level,” the TDP’s parliamentary party leader Galla Jayadev said.

Pullout spree

The TDP would compile ground reports and present them to various central departments to seek the Narendra Modi government’s intervention to ensure continuity in the works and restore confidence among the people about the project.

Ever since the change of guard in the state in May this year, there is a question mark over the fate of the ₹50,000 crore project. The YSRCP government has ordered the suspension of all works related to the mega project as part of its decision to review all major projects undertaken during the previous TDP regime.

Subsequently, the World Bank had pulled out of the project and dropped the loan proposal. There have been unconfirmed reports that Amaravati would be retained as “functional capital” with administrative headquarters while a “cluster of hubs” would be developed across the state — north coastal, south coastal and Rayalaseema regions.

The latest blow came when Singapore announced the closure of Amaravati capital city start-up area project with “mutual consent” of the state government.

Also read | Palnadu turns ground zero for Andhra revenge politics

A Singapore consortium comprising Ascendas Singbridge and Sembcorp Development had signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the state government in 2017, when TDP was in power, to develop a 6.84-sq km start-up area in the new capital in three phases over a period of 15 years.

It was the first major real-estate venture that the Chandrababu Naidu government had undertaken under the Public-Private Partnership mode and selected the Singapore consortium.

TDP leaders have argued that the withdrawal of the Singapore consortium from Amaravati project does not augur well for the state.

“It is not the question of just one project being called off. It is the question of credibility of the state and lack of investment climate in the state. It will send wrong signals to potential investors who will think twice before putting their money in Andhra Pradesh not just in the capital but in any other project,” Jayadev said.

Farmers worried

The TDP MP said the farmers who had voluntarily given away their lands for the construction of Amaravati were now crest-fallen as the work on project had come to a halt. “They have moved the high court expressing concern over their fate in case the capital city is relocated,” he said.

On Thursday (Nov 14), the state high court admitted a petition filed by a group of farmers from Amaravati who challenged the state government’s decision to constitute an ‘expert committee’ to decide the fate of the upcoming capital. They argued that the committee was constituted in violation of the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA) Act, 2014.

They said they had given away their lands to the government under land pooling system for the capital, hoping to get high returns. Now, their fate had become uncertain due to the talk of change of location of capital city.

Also read | World Bank: Dropped Amaravati project due to withdrawal of finance plea

The court issued notices to the Centre and the YSRCP government and posted the case for November 28.

A five-member committee comprising urban planning experts, headed by retired IAS officer G Nageswara Rao, completed its task of receiving suggestions from the people on the capital city location on November 12. It is expected to submit its report by the month-end.

A day after the withdrawal of Singapore consortium from the Amaravati start-up area city project on November 12, Finance Minister B Rajendranath Reddy made it clear that the government could not afford to develop the capital city at Amaravati as per the plan envisaged during the TDP regime.

He said it would take several decades to complete the project and the state government had neither time nor resources to take up the project in view of its own priorities of welfare and developmental programmes to be implemented in the entire state.