What is going to be the future of Amaravati? This question has been at the centre of discussions among Andhras after the World Bank on 18 July announced that it will no longer fund the project ‘Amaravati Sustainable Infrastructure and Institutional Development Project’ worth $300 million (nearly Rs 2066 crore).
The World Bank stated that it dropped the project, as the Indian government which was supposed to be the implementing agency for the project, on July 15, withdrew its request for funds. Perhaps, to avoid the foreign agency from probing any discrepancies concerning Amaravati. Meanwhile, on Sunday, the World Bank said it will continue to support Andhra Pradesh with over $1 billion through a set of projects covering health, agriculture, energy and disaster management sectors.
The development is welcomed by some sections of people who have been opposing the way Amaravati is being constructed. Mallela Sheshagiri Rao from the Capital Region Farmers Federation said in a statement: “With uncertainty hovering above us in respect to our land and livelihood, we had suffered sleepless nights with fear and pain. The struggle has made a mark in our lives that we can never forget. We hope the larger message of World Bank’s pulling out of this project will be heard by the state and other financiers and will address the concerns of people with honesty and commitment.”
But what is more worrying the Andhras in general is its future. In the recently announced state budget for 2019-20, the YSR Congress government under Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy has allotted just Rs 50 crore for ‘Amaravati Capital City Development Project’.
As per the AP State Reorganisation Act, 2014, the central government is obliged to extend financial support the state for the construction of the capital city including Assembly, High Court, Raj Bhawan and region development authority among others. Also, during the bifurcation debate in the parliament, the former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had promised to grant Special Category status to Andhra Pradesh. The NDA government, which came to power in 2014, has denied to grant the same, so far.
The previous TDP government urged the Centre to grant Rs 62,623 crore for the development of Amaravati, as per the commitment under bifurcation act, however, the Centre has given only some Rs 1500 crore in the last five years. This too, despite the government’s think tank NITI Aayog’s suggestion that over Rs 60,000 crore will be needed for the purpose.
On the other side, the YSRCP government has recently formed a sub-committee which is currently enquiring on the irregularities in the land pooling system, through which the TDP government collected over 33,000 acres of land for the construction and development of Amaravati.
It is to be seen how will YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is going to deal with the concerns of the capital city once his committee report will be out. But, so far, Reddy and his ministers have been softspoken towards the PM Narendra Modi government despite no talk about SCS in the Union Budget 2019-20.