Building Andhra Pradesh: New government in a new State

The people of Andhra Pradesh have given a clear and absolute mandate for development and for creating employment opportunities for them.
Building the new capital Amaravati and completing the Polavaram
irrigation project are priorities
for the new NDA government
in AP.
Building the new capital Amaravati and completing the Polavaram irrigation project are priorities for the new NDA government in AP.Photo | Express

Under the leadership of Nara Chandrababu Naidu, the TDP-BJP-JSP combine within the NDA umbrella won a landslide victory in Andhra Pradesh at the recent elections, bagging 164 of the 175 assembly seats and 21 of the 25 Lok Sabha seats. The vote was for Viksit Andhra to be part of Viksit Bharat.

Two projects would be crucial to meet the aspirations of the people and develop the state—building the new capital Amaravati and completing the Polavaram irrigation project. These two projects are expected to contribute substantially to the country’s GDP and create considerable wealth for the state. There is also a huge potential for employment generation as Amaravati will first need to be built, then be the seat of the state government’s executive functions, and thereafter will be a services hub. In the case of Polavaram, it will support the entire state’s drinking water and irrigation needs and generate hydel power to serve industrial needs.

During the 2024 election campaign, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah expressed the NDA’s support for building Amaravati, which was abruptly stalled by Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy’s government. Work on the new state capital was purposely neglected by the outgoing chief minister as his priorities were scattered across freebies in the name of welfare measures.

This led to a neglect of using the capital expenditure route for creating productive, revenue-generating assets for the state. The YSR Congress government buried the efforts made prior to 2019 for the development of Amaravati as a ‘growth engine’ for the state. As a result, investors across the world lost confidence in the state being able to honour project commitments despite a change in government—it had an adverse impact not only on foreign direct investments, but among domestic investors too.

Now the people of Andhra Pradesh have given a clear and absolute mandate for development and for creating employment opportunities for them. The point is about carrying out the development of Amaravati’s infrastructure in a phased manner according to the master plan approved by the Amaravati Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) and reconnecting with the set specifications of a project stalled since 2019.

There are three main questions that would need to be addressed. First, is it necessary to revise the detailed project report for the changes needed in the structures and funds to ensure that Amaravati is a self-sustainable project? Second, are the old contractors ready to take up the project, or would new contractors be invited? And third, are any changes needed in the law governing the CRDA since a few amendments had been made by the previous government during 2019-2024?

It should be noted that the Union government is continuing to play a vital role in the process of building Amaravati. First, a Rs 1,500-crore grant has already been given by the Union government for setting up infrastructure such as an assembly, a secretariat and a high court, among other structures needed for the city to function as the capital. A Hudco loan of Rs 10,000 crore has also been facilitated by the Union government.

Second, the Centre has recognised it as a smart city and a heritage city. It allowed capital gains tax exemption on the sale of land by farmers who offered it under a land pooling system; farmers had voluntarily offered nearly 35,000 acres of land to the CRDA on a call from the then CM Chandrababu Naidu.

Third, nearly 50 central government institutions had procured land in Amaravati to build their facilities, but they now need to start construction.

The people of the state have given their mandate in favour of the NDA for coordination between the state and Union governments in developing the capital. The newly-formed government will have to plan for the required funds to complete the phased development with Union government assistance through the ministries of urban development, highways, aviation, jal shakti and tourism, among others. The plan will also include internal resources like project loans that are repayable from the future revenues generated from Amaravati.

Apart from this, the new government will implement other industrial projects along 975 km of the sea coast similar in importance to building Amaravati. This will include looking at the western Prakasam district and the Rayalaseema region for decentralising development, since all regions of the ‘Sunrise State’ have potential with their own resources and advantages.

In addition to Amaravati, the NDA government’s priority is in creating 194 thousand million cubic feet of storage capacity for the multi-beneficial Polavaram undertaking, which has been accorded priority as a national project under Section 90 of Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014.

It has been noted that among the important components of the project are funds for the rehabilitation and resettlement plan and providing water for drinking and industrial use—these parts can be accommodated through various Union government schemes on a priority basis. It is estimated that the Polavaram project can be completed within the next 4 years with the assistance of the Union government.

Apart from Amaravati and Polavaram, better capacity utilisation in the industrial areas along the Visakhapatnam-Chennai, Bengaluru-Chennai and Bengaluru-Hyderabad corridors would lead to inclusive and decentralised development of Andhra Pradesh and would be a considerable contribution to nation building.

(Views are personal)

Lanka Dinakar | FCA, Chief Spokesperson for BJP in AP

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