Andhra Assembly passes Bill for three state capitals

Sreenivas Janyala
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Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy. (File)

TDP leader and former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu’s dream project, lost the status as Andhra Pradesh’s capital on Monday, as the state Assembly’s special session passed the AP Decentralisation and Equal Development of All Regions Act, 2020.

The Act paves the way to set up three state capitals.

The state Cabinet decided to relegate Amaravati as the legislative capital and make Visakhapatnam the executive capital, where the secretariat and Raj Bhavan would be located. Kurnool in Rayalaseema will be developed as judicial capital, where the AP High Court would be located.

The AP Decentralisation and Equal Development of All Regions Bill was introduced by Municipal Administration and Urban Development Minister B Satyanarayanain and passed amid protests from Opposition Telugu Desam Party MLAs.

State Finance Minister B Rajendranath, who initiated a discussion on the Bill, said. “We are constituting Amaravati Metropolitan Region, which will have legislative functions, which means Amaravati will be the legislative capital. The executive capital will be Visakhapatnam, while Kurnool Urban Development Area will be the judicial capital. The Raj Bhavan and the Secretariat will be moved to Visakhapatnam.”

There were heated exchanges between ministers and TDP MLAs during the session, with the Speaker losing his cool on former minister and TDP legislator K Atchannaidu.


Why the government wants three capitals

The AP government says it wants to ensure equal and balanced development, instead of concentrating on just once place, and thereby develop three state capitals. Finance Minister B Rajendranath told the Assembly the government wants to introduce zonal development by dividing the state into four zones, each with three or four districts to ensure balanced development. Zonal development boards will be set up to recommend and accelerate growth and development, the government maintains.

In an attempt to thwart any TDP opposition to the move in Assembly, the government had revealed names of several leaders from the party who purchased lands in Amaravati region after allegedly getting insider information that it would be declared as the state capital.

Rajendranath asked how MLAs, MPs, former MLAs and leaders of TDP, based in Anantapur or other far-off districts, knew about interior villages in Guntur district where they purchased land just before the then TDP government declared 29 villages in Guntur and Krishna districts as Amaravati capital region. “There was obviously insider trading. Then CM Chandrababu Naidu breached the oath of secrecy by revealing to some people his Amaravati plan, which enabled TDP leaders to purchase lands. As per Amaravati capital development plan, value of these land (plots) would have increased exponentially,’’ he claimed.

The government, he maintained, has so far unearthed a scam over 4,070 acres, and “we believe it is just the tip of the iceberg”.

Speaker T Sitaram directed the government to conduct a probe into allegations of insider trading in Amaravati.