VIJAYAWADA / GUNTUR: At a time when IT and telecommunication systems have become part of our daily life and developing further for greater connectivity, the old concept of a centrally located capital is losing importance.
People are increasingly giving the examples of US and Australia where the administrative capitals are semi-urban areas and the bigger cities need not be the administrative capitals of the states or the nations.
But this argument does not stand good for a country like India, particularly Andhra Pradesh where accessibility and central location have still got a lot of disdvantages. Unlike US and Australia, we do not have a great connectivity in terms of road and rail transport, developing which would take several years. When speaking about connectivity, we need to talk about the national highways and rail routes. Less than 10 per cent of public have the access to these mass communication systems in India, and the concept of decentralisation of administration would impose additional financial burden on people.
When the Andhra state was formed, Kurnool had no infrastructure to run the administration and when Andhra Pradesh came into existence in 1956, the readymade infrastructure in Hyderabad came in handy prompting the leaders of the state to shift the capital to Hyderabad. But under current circumstances, none of the major cities like Visakhapatnam, Tirupati or Vijayawada-Guntur stretch do not have the necessary infrastructure. Hence, it is ideal to develop a planned city in terms of Chandigarh or at least like Bhubaneswar.
As a Vizagite, one can promote the city due to regional loyalties but a capital should be ideally centrally located. The capital need not be between Vijaywada-Guntur as land acquisition is a major issue, but it can be a less-populated town in close proximity to these cities which have greater connectivity to road and rail network.
People particularly leaders should shed their regional loyalties and think for greater good. The capital need not be a hub for development and can be only an administrative capital where all major administrative offices can be available at one place.
The Sivaramakrishnan Committee has suggested that the offices of different departments can be located in different places, but one should be practical over issues like one cannot have all meetings through tele/video conferences and hence, all staff have to travel to the State capital. What about their travel and stay in the capital? If that was the case, imagine what would have happened when the Port Administration is located inVisakhapatnam and the Foreign Trade head office in Mumbai.
One has to travel from one city to the other and it would be expensive for the people as well when they have to work in the head offices of different departments. Having said that, the government should develop multiple cities with access to quality education and healthcare along with employment which would decentralise development and thus, avoid overcrowding in the capital.
- Unlike US & Australia, we do not have a great connectivity in terms of road and rail transport
- Central Panel has suggested that the offices of different departments can be located in different places of the State
- Under current circumstances, none of the major cities like Visakhapatnam, Tirupati or Vijayawada-Guntur stretch do not have the necessary infrastructure
(The author is former chairman of Bar Council of India and ex-mayor of Vizag)