Representational Image. Image Courtesy: Mumbai Mirror
Farmers from 29 villages in Amaravati observed a complete bandh on Tuesday, January 21, in protest against the passage of Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of all Regions Bill, 2020 that mandates setting up of three capitals in the state.
Amid heavy police deployment and imposition of section 144, the region witnessed a complete shutdown with schools, colleges and private sector remaining closed. On Monday, the state police had resorted to lathi charge injuring hundreds of protesters as they attempted to gherao the state Assembly, while opposition leaders were detained.
Under the banner of Amaravati Joint Action Committee (JAC), the farmers have been protesting for the last 36 days. In protest against the police crackdown, the JAC have urged farmers to offer water or places to sit for the policemen.
Also read: Amaravati Farmers’ Protest Against Capital Relocation Enters 24th day
Accusing the previous state government of indulging in scandalous practices in the construction of Amaravati as state capital, Chief Minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy on Monday stated in Assembly that his government is set to adopt corrective steps. “Since the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2014, the then Telugu Desam Party (TDP) under N Chandrababu Naidu’s leadership had done numerous historical mistakes including the construction of Amaravati,” said the CM. He added that no injustice will be done to Amaravati which will continue as one of the three capitals, with proposed Visakhapatnam as the executive capital and Kurnool as the judicial capital.
“The government needs to reconsider the passed bill as development doesn’t mean decentralisation of capital,” Y Kesav Rao, president of Andhra Pradesh Rythu Sangam, told NewsClick.
As per the new bill, Amaravati will be the legislative capital with the Assembly located there, while the secretariat and Raj Bhavan will be constructed in Visakhapatnam and the High Court will be shifted to Kurnool.
“How could the government pass the bill without even discussing with the Amaravati farmers who gave away 33,000 acres of land for the capital?,” questioned Kesav Rao. “The farmers have been protesting for more than a month now. The ruling party has not even tried to understand their grievances,” he added.
Another bill, to abolish the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority that was formed to oversee the construction of new capital at Amaravati, was also passed on Monday.
Also read: Andhra Pradesh: Amaravati’s Fate as Capital Hangs in Balance
Before the passage of the bills, the CM announced that Amaravati will be transformed into a green city and announced a set of promises including extension of the 10-year annuity term for compensation of Amaravati farmers to 15 years. He added that the pension given to the landless farmers will be increased to Rs 5,000 from the present Rs 2,500 and assured that the government will do justice to the farmers from SC, ST and minority communities whose lands were forced to give up their lands in the land pooling system.
“Amaravati farmers’ protests will continue unless the government comes forward on a concrete plan of compensation for the land given away by them for the construction of capital. This issue is complex as construction work has begun in large portions of the land and the YSR Congress government has stopped all work there ever since it came to power in May 2019,” said Kesav Rao.
Meanwhile, YSR Congress supporters held celebration rallies in several parts of the state over the passage of the bills.