Andhra Assembly passes three-capital Bill

Amaravati, Jan 21 (IANS) Andhra Pradesh Assembly on Monday passed a Bill to develop three capitals with Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy assuring justice to Amaravati farmers, who have been on a warpath for more than a month.
After nearly 12-hour-long marathon sitting, the Assembly passed by a voice vote Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill 2020 to develop Visakhapatnam and Kurnool as the capitals in addition to Amaravati.
Capital Region Development Authority Repeal Bill 2020 was also passed to repeal the CRDA Act passed in 2015 to develop Amaravati as the state capital.
The House also passed a resolution for development of three state capitals. According to the resolution, the move is aimed at decentralisation of governance and for ensuring inclusive development of all regions.
Replying to the debate on the Bills, the Chief Minister said the capital was not being shifted from Amaravati as it would continue as the legislative capital. “We are only developing two more capitals to do justice to other regions,” he said.
Reddy said Visakhapatnam would be the executive capital while Kurnool will be the judicial capital.
As the farmers in 29 villages of Amaravati continued their protest, the Chief Minister assured them that his government will do justice to them.
He announced that the farmers who gave their lands for the capital will be paid annuity term for 15 years as against 10 years announced by the previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government. The government also decided to increase ex-gratia for farmers from Rs 2500 per month to Rs 5000 per month.
The Chief Minister explained the reasons for the government’s decision to go for three capitals. He alleged that TDP government led by Chandrababu Naidu had turned development of Amaravati into real estate venture. He said the TDP leaders resorted to insider trading by buying lands in Amaravati at throw away prices before choosing the region as the state capital.
Speaking in the absence of TDP MLAs, who were suspended for stalling the proceedings, Reddy played audio-visual slides to present his arguments before the House. He highlighted how Naidu ignored the report of Sivaramakrishnan Committee, which had opposed concentrating development at one place and did not favor Krishna-Guntur region for developing the state capital.
The Chief Minister said developing 8 square kilometre Amaravati required a whopping Rs. 1 lakh crore and given the precarious finances of the state and his government’s priorities, it was not in a position to arrange the required funds. He said irrigation projects, drinking water, electricity for farmers, health, education and welfare programs were the priorities of the government.
The passing of the Bills and the resolution capped a hectic day in Amaravati, which was rocked by protests by farmers and the opposition parties.
Police resorted to baton charge at few places to stop protesters from heading towards secretariat and Assembly. TDP MP from Guntur, Galla Jayadev was among those injured in the baton charge.
Running through the barren fields of Amaravati, the protesters fought pitched battled with the police. Some women were also injured in the clashes.
Late in the evening, police stopped Jana Sena President and actor Pawan Kalyan from visiting Amaravati villages. Chandrababu Naidu and TDP MLAs were also detained while trying to undertake apadyatra’ in support of farmers.
The day began with the chief minister chairing a meeting of state cabinet, which gave its nod for the two Bills.
It accepted the report of the high-power committee. This committee was constituted to analyse the reports of the experts’ committee and Boston Consultancy Group (BCG) which had recommended decentralization of state capital foundations.
During the debate in Assembly, Speaker T Sitaram has sought a probe into the allegations of insider trading. The speaker assured him that the government will order a probe and bring the culprits to book.
The farmers, who had given 33,000 acres of land for development of Amaravati as the state capital in 2015, say that shifting of key capital functions would harm their interests.
Amaravati was the brainchild of Chandrababu Naidu, who wanted to develop it as a world-class city.
The Singapore government had prepared the master plan for Amaravati, the foundation stone for which was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in October 2015.
The city was planned to be developed on the banks of Krishna river at a cost more than Rs 1 lakh crore.
After Naidu’s TDP lost power in the elections last year, Jagan Mohan Reddy had announced review of all projects launched during TDP rule. Alleging insider trading in development of Amaravati, the YSRCP government stopped all works in Amaravati and launched a probe.

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