Construction in Amaravati comes to a grinding halt

Sreenivas Janyala
A visual representation of the Amaravati capital city project.

Construction in the Amaravati Capital Region as well as most parts of Andhra Pradesh has come to a grinding halt as the ruling YSRCP has stopped all payments and cancelled the sand mining policy. The construction of apartments and bungalows for government officials, ministers, MLAs and judges at Amaravati has been stopped. Also, the scarcity of sand for construction has halted both government and private construction work across the state.

Explained

Halt in works may have long-term impact

The stoppage of works at Amaravati will have a long-term impact on the construction of the new capital city for Andhra Pradesh. The project is already delayed due to u-turns on designs and plans submitted by chief architect Foster and Partners by former CM N Chandrababu Naidu. The secretariat, high court, and all-important government offices are working out of temporary locations spread over Vijayawada and Guntur and there is an urgent need to establish the capital city and bring them together. Since the last two months, much of the equipment and machinery is lying unused. Singapore which submitted the plan for seed capital appears to be staying away from the project.

The government is reviewing some contracts awarded by the previous TDP government. Contracts were awarded at higher rates, causing loss to the exchequer. Till that probe is completed, all payments are kept on hold. Works that are completed above 50 per cent can continue but payments are temporarily halted, said Botsa Satyanarayana, Minister of Municipal Administration and Urban Development.

Satyanarayana said the government cancelled TDP s sand mining and supply policy because it encouraged rampant illegal mining and sand was sold at exorbitant prices. Only local contractors belonging to TDP benefited from it. We will soon bring out a new and transparent policy. Till the policy is out, we have directed district collectors to ensure that sand is procured and supplied, he said.

The high-rises dotting the landscape are spacious flats for All India Service officers, MLAs and MLCs, non-gazetted officers, and class IV employees. (Express photo)

With the government halting payments to contractors, construction in government and private sector has been shut since the last week of July. Even in Amaravati, where some of the buildings are 70-75 per cent complete, work has stopped as payments of previous quarter are pending. In fact, after the government changed, we have not received any payment. So there is no procurement of new material to complete the pending work, an official of a company constructing flats in Amaravati said.

In fact, the workforce of over 50,000 labourers at Amaravati, mainly from Jharkhand, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Bihar and West Bengal, has reduced to a half after contractors told them that there was no work. Officials at Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority said new contracts worth more than Rs 9,800 crore awarded by the TDP government just before elections were announced have been put on hold. These include contracts for a bridge connecting Vijayawada with Amaravati, a drinking water project, Vaikuntapuram Barrage, ring roads, parks and entertainment places.

Officials said that out of the total 320 km of arterial and sub-arterial roads which are part of the master plan, 285 km are currently under execution. (Express Photo)

Real estate developer and former BJP MLA from Visakhapatnam P Vishnu Kumar Raju said construction industry has taken a big hit in cities like Visakhapatnam and Vijayawada. Sand is difficult to procure so construction in public and private partnership, as well as the private sector, has slowed down or stopped. Amaravati looks like a ghost town now, Raju said.

Explained | Why Amaravati was chosen as the new Andhra Pradesh capital

Mines Minister P Ramachandra Reddy said the new sand policy would soon be announced. It is a very transparent policy and the draft is ready. The AP Mineral Development Corporation (APMDC) will be nodal agency to implement the new policy. To prevent exploitation of river sand, we are also promoting manufactured sand. The corporation will tie up with private contractors to mine sand only from designated places and it would be moved to APMDC godowns. Customers can order sand online and sand would be delivered wherever they want. APMDC will control the prices, Reddy said.