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Capital shifting scare: Farmers knock on Centre’s door for help

Several farmers from Amaravati, the capital region of Andhra Pradesh, sought the intervention of the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance government at the Centre to urge the YSR Congress government in the state not to relocate the capital. 
 
The farmers from several villages like Velagapudi, Uddandarayuni Palem, Tullur and Venkatayapalem met BJP state president Kanna Lakshminarayana in Guntur and submitted a memorandum to this effect. They have been visibly upset with the ways of Jaganmohan Reddy-led government. 
 
The farmers expressed serious concern over the recent statement made by state minister for municipal administration and urban development Botsa Satyanarayana that Amaravati, being a flood-prone area, was not a suitable place for a capital city and the government would soon come out with a decision on the location of the capital.
 
“It is not correct to think about shifting the capital from Amaravati on the ground that it is a flood-prone area. Never in the past were our villages inundated even when there were heavy rains and floods in Krishna river. In fact, many big cities are on the banks of major rivers. We have given our lands to the government in full faith that it will develop into a world-class capital,” T Sivarama Gupta, a farmer from Amaravati said.
 
Another farmer Narendra Babu said they had not dealt with any particular political party but the government. “We believed the previous TDP government and gave away 33,000 acres of land under land pooling for the capital city. Now, we want the present YSR Congress government to continue the work on the capital city. We have not been able to get proper sleep and are feeling tense ever since the minister hinted at shifting of the capital to a different location,” he said.
 
The farmers also told the BJP president that the work on the capital city had come to a grinding halt and they had not been paid yet the annuity of Rs 30,000 to Rs 50,000 per acre for this year. 
 
“This is causing a lot of concern for us and we have no other means of livelihood,” another farmer K Satyanarayana said.
The BJP state president said his party would stand by the farmers and would strongly oppose the shifting of the capital from Amaravati. He assured that he would take up the matter with the Centre.
 
“The previous government had spent crores of rupees on the capital city. It is not correct on the part of the Jagan government to create confusion regarding the capital. It should come out with a clear stand in this regard,” Lakshminarayana said, adding that he would soon visit the capital region and hold a meeting with the farmers who gave their lands to the previous government.
 
At a press conference in Visakhapatnam earlier this week, the state urban development minister said the latest floods in Krishna river had proved that former chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu had chosen a wrong place for the construction of the capital city. “Amaravati is not a suitable place for being the capital city as the entire area is prone to frequent floods. We need to construct check dams, canals and flood channels to drain out water during floods,” he said.
 
He further said it was a costly affair to construct buildings, huge structures and flyovers. “The cost of construction will be huge in Amaravati, compared to other places. It is going to be a huge burden on the state exchequer and a lot of public money is going to be wasted,” the minister said.
 
However, later the “flood news” has been proved that it was a purposeful delayed release of water through Prakasam Barrage which flooded parts of Krishna district - an incident which never happened before in the state. It is alleged that the release of water was expected to inundate all the low-lying areas in the district, a move which the current YSRCP government knew but wanted to create an impression that Amaravati was “flood-prone” and unsafe. 
 

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