Andhra Pradesh

Three Capital idea in Andhra Pradesh is rooted in history

Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy hinted in the Legislative Assembly recently that there was nothing wrong in having the capital at three places, similar to the South African model. He hinted that the High Court could be based in Kurnool, Amaravati could continue to be the Legislative capital and Visakhapatnam the Executive capital.

The idea received both flak and appreciation from various quarters.

But if we go back into the history of the formation of Andhra Pradesh State, this idea is connected to the history and is a nostalgic one. The first reference of decentralisation was made in the Sri Bagh pact, which was signed by the then political leaders from Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema on November 16, 1937.

According to the pact, for a balanced decentralisation, it was decided to continue with Andhra University in Visakhapatnam and the High Court and the capital be divided between the two regions.

Sri Krishna panel

The advantages and qualities of Visakhapatnam to become the capital was discussed not only in the Sri Bagh pact but was also elaborately deliberated by the Sri Krishna Committee, which was formed by Ministry of Home Affairs, Union of India, to study the alternatives for a new capital for the State of Andhra Pradesh.

Coming to suggestion for the alternative capital, the Sri Krishna Committee primarily took up three things for consideration — creation of single city or super city in greenfield location, expanding existing cities and distributed development.

The Committee however did not consider a single large capital city as a feasible option available to Andhra Pradesh as of then. But the State government had pushed the VGTM (Vijayawada, Guntur, Tenali, Mangalagiri) area for development.

Visakhapatnam was in the radar, as it was felt that it has all the requirements.

"Vizag, always had been the biggest city, after Hyderabad, even in the combined State. One should understand that government cannot build cities, it can build infrastructure and it is the people who build the cities," said Prof. K.C. Reddy, former Chairman of APSCHE.

Living space

Visakhapatnam has all the settings to become a good living space. Even after Amaravati was carved out, most of the bureaucrats did not shift their families and they continued to stay in Hyderabad. "But Vizag is a liveable and lovable city and they would not mind to shift," said Prof. Reddy.

The city and the district have over 12 major engineering colleges, two universities, including the famed Andhra University, three medical colleges, including the decades-old Andhra Medical College. When it comes to recreational tourism, the footfalls is the highest in the State. Apart from over 100 government schools, there are over 30 schools with a few catering to international curriculum.

It is also the medical hub in the region with over 30 state-of-the-art hospitals and at least four major government hospitals, including the King George Hospital.

What else would one want. You have good education infrastructure including institutions such as AU, IIM, IMU and IIPE, good medical infrastructure and good tourism and recreation infrastructure. These are enough for a good living, said Prof. V. Balamohan.

Cosmopolitan culture

Thanks to rapid industrialisation, including the presence of Eastern Naval Command and a number of public sector units, this is probably the only city in the State that wears a cosmopolitan fabric.

This factor is important for good community living and maintaining a harmonious balance in society. Most, importantly, the presence of such culture lends peace and gives readymade quality manpower, said Allam Appa Rao, former Vice-Chancellor of JNTU-Kakinada.

According to Prof. K.C. Reddy, the argument that Vizag is in one corner does not hold water, as cities such as Mumbai, Kolkata or Chennai are located in corners of the States. "In the present digital world, connectivity and communication is not an issue. And the initial hiccups or teething problems can be easily ironed out," he said.

Moreover, Visakhapatnam is the IT hub of the State, this should stand as an advantage, he added.

Decentralisation

"The idea is not new. It was elaborately described in the Sri Bagh pact. The pact clearly defined decentralisation, for the benefit of all three main regions such as Coastal AP, Godavari and Krishna districts and Rayalaseema," said former Rector of Andhra University A. Prasanna Kumar.

Land

According to government records, there is about 10,000 acres of government land. "Land is not an issue, as the requirement to set up a few new offices and quarters will not exceed 2,000 to 3,000 acres," said a senior officer from the Revenue Department.

Most of the experts and intellectual are of the opinion that the decision is a win-win situation both for the government and the city.

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Printable version | Jan 23, 2021 12:11:23 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/andhra-pradesh/three-capital-idea-is-rooted-in-history/article30369313.ece

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