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Capital woes stall execution of ambitious Amaravati project

When N. Chandrababu Naidu, former chief minister of Andhra Pradesh unveiled his vision for Amaravati in September 2014, as a greenfield capital city, it was touted as the most ambitious infrastructure project with estimated cost of $2 billion. Taking a note of the size and fund requirements, both supporters and critics had raised doubts over the project which they felt was unrealistic, financially unviable and a mere utopian dream.
 
However, it hardly deterred Naidu, who appointed Singapore’s Surbana Jurong Pvt Ltd  to prepare the master plan, and Tokyo-based Maki & Associates was chosen to be the master architect for the 900-acre capital complex. When Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of Amaravati in October 2015 with Vedic chants, water from 35 rivers and soil from 13,000 villages of Andhra Pradesh, Naidu set a deadline to finish the project in the first phase by 2017-18.
 
With the Centre chipping in, the project got funding support from both the ADB and the World Bank. Many international companies started making a beeline to be part of this mega urbanisation project. The Singapore government extended its support to provide training to Andhra Pradesh government officials in capacity building and urban development aspects to develop Amaravati as the most liveable city.
 
However, this utopian dream was short-lived with Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy taking charge as the chief minister, who since inception had dismissed it as “personal extravaganza” of Chandrababu Naidu to fulfill his own political ambitions. The project has been stalled by the AP government citing lack of fund and mounting debt.
 
After the Centre losing interest in it, both the World Bank and the ADB stopped funding the project. The current chief minister is in no mood to go ahead with the plan, leaving investors in lurch. The initial plan for the administrative capital included five multi-floor towers, Assembly building and Raj Bhavan, which were designed by leading international architects Norman and Fosters. After the designs were finalised, the government had even issued tender notification.
 
But, as the new government took charge, the construction work stopped.“The construction work has been stopped and officials are citing lack of fund. Work is only allowed where construction is completed more than 60 per cent, else there is no release of fund...not good for investors sentiment,” said one of the construction vendor.

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