Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has been focussing on undoing the schemes and projects initiated by his predecessor and TDP supremo N Chandrababu Naidu, ever since he assumed office in May this year. Among them, the most important is stalling the building of Amaravati, the capital city. CM Reddy called the land acquisition for developing the capital city a big scam and said his government would order a thorough probe. He claimed that his predecessor Naidu and other leaders of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) had prior information about the location of new capital and hence purchased prime lands at throwaway prices.
Jagan Reddy's remarks have created panic especially among farmers, who were expecting good returns in the form of property development for 33,000 acres of land they gave for the capital city. He has spooked industry and financiers by proposing multi capital cities for the state instead of completing the work at Amaravati. The change of guards led to real estate prices in Amaravati crashing down.
Can Jagan Reddy dump Amaravati? Will it prove counter-productive for him? Can Andhra afford to lose the confidence of foreign and domestic investors, major construction companies and farmers who are in a state of confusion?
Anju Grover for Indian Currents spoke to Kesineni Srinivas, TDP MP from Vijayawada, to know the impact of the decision of relocation of Amaravati on people, investors and economy of the state.
Srinivas alleged that stopping Amaravati would prove to be a disaster for the state. Denying that there was a scam, TDP MP alleged that CM was behaving like a dictator.
IC: Jagan Reddy government's decision to stall the building of Amaravati has triggered uproar. He was opposed to the idea from the time of decision in 2014. In the budget for 2019-20, his government allocated a mere 500 crore for Amaravati. The government's argument is that it would like to review the contracts awarded by TDP government and allege unprecedented corruption in all the major projects like Amravati and the mega Polavaram multipurpose irrigation project on Godavari. Your views…
Kesineni Srinivas: He is bent upon destroying all the good work done by Chandrababu Naidu. Amaravati is geographical centre of the state. The distance to Amaravati from the borders of Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Odisha and Hyderabad is more or less the same. Amaravati is also in the centre of the two cities of Vijayawada and Guntur. It is strategically important. There are resources and adequate infrastructure needed for any state capital. A lot of planning had been done and thought process had gone into Amaravati.
IC: The Sivaramakrishnan committee constituted by the Centre in March 2014 to suggest a new capital region for Andhra Pradesh post-bifurcation of the state, did not favour a single large capital city with concentration of legislature, judiciary and executive... However, the idea of four capitals came up.
It is illogical to have four capitals for Andhra Pradesh with a population of five/six crore. If AP needs four capitals then India needs at least 25 capitals.
IC: According to you, the idea to have four capitals in a state is baseless and too far-fetched. Also, so much investment has gone in Amaravati besides, planning and resources. Why did he raise the issue of Amaravati relocation?
He wants to destroy the legacy of TDP chief.
IC: He has alleged that there were irregularities in the Amaravati project worth crores of rupees and said that a probe is needed.
He can order for a CBI probe or can refer the matter to Enforcement Directorate. He can put Chandrababu Naidu or me into jail. We did everything for the people of AP. Naidu and his son were kept under house arrest; it’s a reflection of his dictatorial approach. The law and order situation has become worse in the last 100 days. His party has abandoned people of many villages who supported our party. This is dictatorship.
IC: Is dumping Amaravati a good idea?
Amaravati was planned with an objective of revenue generation for the state. Stopping construction of Amaravati will be a disaster for the state. CM wants to stop everything as World Bank and Asian Infrastructure investment bank have gone back. He has stopped power purchase agreements. This has sent a bad signal to investors within the country and abroad. No investments would come to AP.
IC: How will TDP deal with this situation?
As a responsible opposition party, we will point out all the mistakes and blunders being committed by the Jagan Reddy government to the people because only then, people of AP would be able to make a distinction between Jagan Reddy and his predecessor. We wanted to hold a silent protest but his government arrested TDP chief and his son. Being an MP, they arrested me. More than 7000 of our supporters were arrested. What does it indicate?
(Published on 16th September 2019, Volume XXXI, Issue 38)