New Delhi: The Andhra Pradesh government under Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) on Friday once again deferred a decision to relocate the state capital to Amravati. The state cabinet instead decided to set up another high-powered committee soon to decide on the fate of Amaravati as capital.
This comes at a time when farmers of 29 villages of Guntur and Vijayawada districts have been protesting since the past ten days after Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on December 19, hinted at the chances of going for a three-capital model, instead of one capital --Amaravati.
After the cabinet meeting, state minister Perni Nani said in a press conference that a report by the Boston Consulting Group (BCG) on Amaravati was yet to be submitted to the government. “The state government will constitute a high-power committee to study the BCG report and earlier submitted G N Rao Committee report to decide on the Amaravati capital,” he said.
The G N Rao committee recently recommended Visakhapatnam as the executive capital, Kurnool (in Rayalaseema region) as the legal capital and Amaravati as the legislative capital.
This outraged farmers who had given away their land under the land pooling system to the previous government. Since December 19, thousands of farmers have been protesting at various locations in Amaravati. According to local reports, several farmers have even attempted suicide fearing the transfer of capital from the region.
Fearing obstruction to the Chief Minister’s convoy on its way to the cabinet meeting, the state police detained hundreds of farmers on Friday. Reportedly, a group of farmers met Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan and urged him to intervene in the matter and prevent any change in the capital location.
The previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government collected over 33,000 acres through land pooling for the construction of Amaravati as capital and so far, over Rs 6,000 crore has been invested in its development. However, ever since the YSRCP came to power in May 2019, all major construction projects there have been stalled.
Furthermore, Perni Nani stated that a ministerial committee’s probe had found numerous instances of corruption by the Capital Regional Development Authority in Amaravati’s construction. “It has been found that one company that has links with a former chief minister had purchased land before the capital city location was announced. After due legal consultations, a probe by Lokayukta or Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) will be initiated,” he said.
TDP leaders, along with former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, have been joining the farmers’ protests in Amaravati, while several former ministers have been detained in the protests. Left Parties, including CPI(M), earlier told Newsclick that the three-capital system would create region-based divisions among people in the state.
Meanwhile, the state was also hit by protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the proposed National Population Register and pan-India National Register of Citizens. While YSRCP MPs had voted in favour of the Citizenship Amendment Bill in both Houses of Parliament, subsequently, pressured by intensified protests across the state, Jagan Mohan Reddy has announced that the state government would not implement NRC in the state. However, numerous sections of the people, including Left parties and their associated mass organisations, have been holding protest demonstrations demanding that the state government should reject both NPR and NRC.