This topic of “Andhra Pradesh’s 3 Capitals Plan” is important from the perspective of the UPSC IAS Examination, which falls under General Studies Portion.
What is the background?
- The bifurcation of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh into Telangana and present day Andhra Pradesh took place in 2014. Following the bifurcation, Hyderabad was designated as the capital of Telangana.
- The exercise of identifying the new AP’s capital started even before the bifurcation.
K Sivaramakrishnan Committee:
- A 5-member committee was constituted under the chairmanship of K Sivaramakrishnan. The committee was to suggest the place for building AP’s new capital.
- Highlights of its report:
- It didn’t recommend a particular place for setting up the capital.
- It opposed a Super City or Smart City concept on the lines of Hyderabad.
- It recommended against situating the capital between Vijayawada and Guntur to avoid economic and environmental problems.
- Recommended a decentralized model through 3 zones, as opposed to concentrating all offices at a single place.
- It recommended that the assembly, the secretariat and the CM’s office be located in the capital city.
P Narayana Committee
- A separate advisory committee was set up by the then CM N Chandrababu Naidu, under the chairmanship of P Narayana.
- This committee recommended that the capital city be set up centrally and it should be equidistant from all the regions.
- Following this, the then AP government decided on a fertile zone between Vijayawada and Guntur as the new capital and it was named Amaravati– after an ancient city of Sathavahana dynasty on the Krishna River bank.
- To create this greenfield capital, the AP Capital Region Development Authority was set up using a legislation.
- The APCRDA began acquiring land from the farmers of 29 villages by land pooling. For this, gram sabhas were conducted to take their consent.
- APCRDA agreed to provide the farmers with residential and commercial plots in the capital region that match their original land value. The authority also agreed to annually pay annuity to the framers and provide subsistence allowance to landless agricultural labourers.
- The state government shifted its seat of power to Amaravati after October 2015. It also constructed an interim government complex, a temporary high court building, a legislature complex, bungalows and apartments for the judges, lawmakers and the officers.
What is the 3 capitals plan?
- The 3 capitals plan was envisaged along the lines of South Africa by Andhra Pradesh CM Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, who succeeded Naidu. This plan was put forth in 2019.
- According to this plan, the state is to have 3 capital cities:
- Visakhapatnam as executive capital
- Kurnool as judicial capital
- Amaravati as legislative capital
- For this plan, an expert committee headed by G N Rao was constituted. Its report was in favour of the 3 capitals model.
- In July 2020, 2 bills were passed:
- Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020 for establishing the 3 capital cities
- Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (Repeal) Act, 2020 to dismantle the APCRDA.
Why was this done?
- The Reddy government gave the following main reasons:
- A decentralized model of government would help address the disparities plaguing the different regions of the state.
- The previous government had flouted laws and procedures in the land acquisition and the planning of the city’s development.
What were its outcomes?
- The move disrupted investment plans (worth millions and involving international agencies like the World Bank).
- It also triggered protests from the farmers who had given their lands under the pooling arrangement.
- Recently, the Andhra Pradesh State Assembly repealed the earlier 2 laws that facilitated the 3 capitals plan. This was done by passing the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Repeal Bill, 2021.
What is the way ahead?
- The state government announced that it would be bringing in a new bill with regards to the matter.
- But, this is an opportunity for the government to abandon the 3 capitals plan and to focus on Amaravati.
- The administration could investigate the land acquisition contracts and the development plans for any deficiencies and rectify them.
- With regards to the decentralized governance argument, a compact capital city that is well-planned with modern infrastructure can help the different sections of the state share resources and maximize their use.
- Setting up 3 capital cities could lead to resources wastage and bring in a logistical nightmare.
- Over-centralization of government can be avoided using:
- Judicious allocation of capital and human resources
- Decentralized planning
- Involvement of the local population
The state government is expected to set up another committee of legal experts to design a new legislation to address the legal issues surrounding the 3 capitals plan. However, it would do better to use the opportunity to throw undivided focus on setting up Amaravati for Andhra Pradesh still remains without a proper capital city for some 7 years now.