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Decentralisation of AP Capital: Boon or bane for state?

Will Andhra Pradesh finally settle with the idea of several decentralized capitals spread across the state? After losing Hyderabad, the capital of joint AP from 1956 to 2014, the coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions of the state are looking for a new capital—or perhaps several new ones. The YSR Congress Party (YSRCP) government has decided to abandon the development of Amaravati and, instead, opt for three capital cities.
 
The issue has taken centre stage after an expert committee, appointed by chief minister and YSRCP president Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy, recommended that the capital be decentralized between Amaravati, Visakhapatnam and Kurnool. 
 
Led by retired Indian Administrative Service officer G.N. Rao, the committee said Visakhapatnam should be the executive capital, and Kurnool (in Rayalaseema) the judicial capital, where the high court will be established. Amaravati will be the legislative capital, as the state assembly and governor’s office will function out of it.
 
“They have given the recommendations; as of now, the government has said it will implement it. Even this decentralization may not help Rayalaseema, to be honest. This is a move only to decentralize the functioning. The four districts of Rayalaseema actually need more in terms of development, and not just a high court,” said an official of the AP government, requesting anonymity.
 
The recommendations, if accepted, will undo everything that former chief minister and Telugu Desam Party supremo N. Chandrababu Naidu had planned for Amaravati. Naidu’s government had pooled in about 33,000 acres of farmland, promising that farmers will be compensated for the loss of agricultural income.
 
“When the Siva Ramakrishnan committee was set up by the Centre to look for a new capital after AP’s split from Telangana, it had recommended decentralizing it. So, Jagan is following that. As far as the matter of farmland is concerned, those can be returned to the farmers, who can once again take up farming. In the 2019 AP assembly elections, Naidu’s centralized form of planning in terms of a new capital was rejected by the public, who voted for Jagan and that is why he won 151 out of the 175 seats,” said Prof. E. Venkatesu, a faculty member from the University of Hyderabad’s political science department.
 
The development could leave AP without a developed city as its capital once again, as was the case between 1953 and 1956, when Kurnool was the makeshift capital. The current AP state was also part of the larger Madras presidency under the British rule.

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