Sources confirm that the groundwork for finding a new capital began well before the tabling of T-Bill. In total, Guntur district has 1,34,420 hectares of forest land, one among the highest in the State, and a major portion of it falls under degraded and rock outcrop categories.
The government is mulling over building a new capital of residuary Andhra Pradesh in the forest land close to Mangalagiri, if indications from the government are to be believed.
A highly placed source in the government said a secret dossier from the Secretariat has been sent to the Ministry of Forest and Environment for declassification of forest land close or Mangalagiri, located between Vijayawada and Guntur.
Location of capital city for Andhra Pradesh has been a bone of contention ever since the issue of State bifurcation gained momentum. Leaders and prominent citizens from respective districts marketed their regions.
But, according to sources, the groundwork to find a capital city began at least two months before the A.P. Reorganisation Bill was actually tabled in the Parliament and now, the place has almost been finalised.
In total, Guntur district has 1,34,420 hectares of forest land, one among the highest in the State, and a major portion of it falls under degraded and rock outcrop categories. A small portion of about 2,250 hectares near Nizamapatnam has been earmarked as mangroves, said the District Forest Officer of Guntur K. Lohitasyudu.
The total extent of the forest land at Mangalagiri block under Tadepalli reserve is about 485 hectares, and it is believed that this is being targeted for declassification to host the new capital.
With the region’s close proximity to both the cities of Vijayawada and Guntur, this could be the chosen area, said Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) core committee member J.S.R.K. Prasad.
Earlier in 1960, about 214 acres of forest land in this region was declassified for setting up of T.B. sanatorium and over 180 acres was declassified to establish the 6 Andhra Pradesh Special Police battalion headquarters with firing range.
The national highway cuts through this forest land and Acharya Nagarjuna University. There is also a proposal to occupy the ANU campus as part of the capital project.
Agreeing that the region was in focus even since the new capital discussion began, former Rajya Sabha member from Guntur, Yalamanchili Sivaji, however said, “I don’t understand why the government needs land in hectares when the entire capital infrastructure can be covered in 50 to 60 acres”.