Having failed totally in their endeavour to convince the Centre to reverse its stand on bifurcation or at least accord Union Territory status for Hyderabad, Seemandhra Congress leaders are now busy squabbling over the new capital for the residuary State of AP.
These Ministers are a divided lot with some Ministers like K. Chiranjeevi openly favouring bifurcation on the ground that it was inevitable and also that loyalty to the party was paramount than other considerations. This division among the Ministers is compounding the confusion, particularly the issue of the new capital of residuary AP.
Though the Centre has not given any inkling about its mind, the Ministers are coming out openly with their own choices. Minister for Tribal Affairs K. C. Deo wants Visakhapatnam as the capital, Panabaka Lakshmi is pitching for Vijayawada and Kotla Suryaprakash Reddy for Kurnool.
The cities in the race
Informed sources said AICC leadership is looking at one among the cities of Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Tirupati, Kurnool, Ongole and Rajahmundry as the new capital. But, it may leave the choice of identifying the capital to the local leadership.
All these places have their own advantages and disadvantages. A new capital requires a minimum of 10,000 acres of land but some of these cities do not have that extent of Government land. The Centre’s land acquisition policy indeed lays down that land should be acquired at market price, buying private agricultural land would be a difficult proposition. Vijayawada, though centrally located, could face disadvantage on this count.
In the case of Ongole, there is abundant land available and is an ideal location but for the fact that it suffers from severe drinking water scarcity every summer. Tirupati could also be in the reckoning but it stands a distant chance since it is mostly a temple town. Andhra State’s first capital, Kurnool is also in the race but lack of infrastructure, proper road and rail connectivity and non-availability of an airport may go against it.
Vizag front runner?
Visakhapatnam though looks the front runner in every aspect because of its good rail and road connectivity coupled with a sea-port and airport. However, being located in North Coastal Andhra, it is too distant for people residing in Rayalaseema. Rajahmundry, though a smaller city, has a vast stretch of social forestry land, good rail and road network, an airport besides a modern port at Kakinada.
As of now, the location of the new capital could be anyone’s guess.