Visakhapatnam will be the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy announced on Tuesday (January 31).
Andhra Pradesh needed a new capital because Hyderabad, the capital of undivided Andhra Pradesh, is now aligned with Telangana, and the two states are temporarily sharing the capital.
The decision to choose a new capital has gone through many ups and downs over the years, and a matter that was listed for hearing in the Supreme Court on January 31 was ultimately not taken up.
Here’s what’s happened so far.
First, what exactly did CM Reddy say?
Addressing investors at the International Diplomatic Alliance meet in New Delhi, Chief Minister Reddy said: “I am here to invite you to Visakhapatnam, which is going to be our capital in days to come. I myself will shift there in the coming months. I am inviting you to the Global Investors Summit that we are organizing in Visakhapatnam on 3rd and 4th March.
So what is the significance of this announcement?
The announcement is being seen as Jagan’s reiteration that he will go ahead with his plan for all-round development of Andhra Pradesh through decentralization – and setting up three capitals for the state, each with a different purpose.
Jagan has proposed making Amaravati – which was started to be developed as the state capital by previous CM N Chandrababu Naidu – the legislative capital, Visakhapatnam as the executive capital and Kurnool as the judicial capital of the state.
In recent weeks, government ministers and leaders of Jagan’s YSRCP have been issuing statements in public meetings that decentralized development will continue, and that the government will soon start operating from Visakhapatnam.
But hasn’t the government withdrawn the bill to create three capitals?
Yes, it is indeed – but the idea of the three capitals is far from discarded.
In January 2020, the Jagan government passed a bill in the assembly repealing the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA) Act, 2014, which was passed by the previous TDP government, which had identified Amaravati as the future capital of the state. The fate was decided.
The Jagan government also passed the Andhra Pradesh Decentralization and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020, which provides for three separate capitals for the state.
Section 7 of the Act states: “There shall be three (3) seats of governance in the State of Andhra Pradesh to be called the ‘Capital’ to enable a decentralized model of governance and to provide for an inclusive governance in the State. ‘.” The Act stated that Amaravati would be the “legislative capital”, Visakhapatnam the “executive capital” and Kurnool the “judicial capital” of the state.
However, the Jagan government’s plan ran into trouble.
Hundreds of farmers who had given their land for the development of the capital city in Amaravati under the previous TDP regime, and who had organized themselves under the banner of Rajdhani Rythu Pariksha Samiti, filed a petition in the Andhra Pradesh High Court, challenging the decentralization of government decision of
Stuck in a legal tussle, the state government decided to repeal the decentralization law in November 2021, with the chief minister telling the assembly that the government would introduce an “improved” and “comprehensive” bill after plugging the loopholes in the previous version. He did not mention any time frame.
Despite the repeal of the Three Capitals Act, the Jagan government continued to publicize the decentralization plan.
And what happens to Amaravati, which was supposed to be the capital?
On March 3, 2022, Andhra Pradesh High Court, which considered petitions by farmers who had given land for Amaravati, directed the state government to develop the (erstwhile) proposed capital as envisaged under the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA). gave. Act of the previous TDP government, and set a deadline of six months to develop the city.
The HC said the government should also develop the plots allotted to farmers in lieu of agricultural land abandoned by them and return them in three months, and develop basic amenities around the developed plots.
The order said that other schemes, such as the development of nine theme cities – Knowledge City, Health City, Electronics City, Tourism City, Justice City, Media City, Sports City, Finance City and Government City in Amaravati – as per envisaged under. Should be done through CRDA.
What did the state government do after the order?
The state government made some daring attempts to develop the plots, but it challenged the high court order in the Supreme Court in September last year.
Former Chief Justice UU Lalit recused himself as he had given his opinion on the issue of bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh in 2013, before the Andhra Pradesh Reorganization Act, 2014 was passed.
On November 28, 2022, the Supreme Court expressed displeasure on the instructions of the High Court and stayed their implementation.
Justice KM Joseph said, “Direction 5 is completely unacceptable, that you develop the capital city in 6 months… What do you mean by capital city?” LiveLaw reported at the time.
Justice BV Nagaratna, as reported by Live Law, remarked: “What kind of directions has the High Court passed? Can the High Court become the Town Planner and Chief Engineer? Court has no expertise in such matters, so we do not interfere.” Without expertise… the High Court wants a complete city to be built in two months.’
The bench sought response from the Centre, the Andhra Pradesh government and the Amaravati Rajdhani Rythu Preservation Society by January 31, 2023, the next date of hearing. However, the matter did not come up for hearing on January 31 and a new date will be fixed. Let it be given now.
“The matter was listed in the cause list for today, but the hearing did not take place. A fresh date will be issued,” YSRCP MP V Vijay Sai Reddy told The Indian Express.
So what is the state government’s plan now?
While the matter awaits a final decision in the SC, the question of what will happen to the farmers and properties already developed in Amaravati remains open. Meanwhile, the state government is pushing for its decentralization plan, which was reflected in the chief minister’s statement in Visakhapatnam on January 31.
Around Rs 100 crore has been allocated to spruce up and beautify Visakhapatnam, ahead of the March 3-4 Global Investors Summit. The city will also host the G20 Summit Working Group Committee on 28 and 29 March.
The CM and almost the entire government will work from Visakhapatnam in March, and a base for the capital is likely to be set up in the city. YSRCP ministers are already looking for office space and a proper office-cum-residence for Chief Minister Reddy.