Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh

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The seed capital plan of Amaravati reflects how the area will be a beehive of commercial and administrative activity with several high rises planned in the core area.; Graphic courtesy: The Hindu, October 23, 2014
Moving towards setting up the capital of Andhra Pradesh in Amaravati ; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, October 22, 2015

This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.


Fact files

The Hindu, October 23, 2014

Hoary past: In Indian mythology, Amaravati is the capital of the celestial beings. Historically, it was the capital of Satavahanas, the first great Andhra kings who ruled from the 2nd century BCE to the 3rd century CE after the downfall of the Maurya Empire. Located in Guntur district on the banks of Krishna river,it is also known as Punyakshetra or Amareswaram

Rich in Culture: The city’s heritage includes the famous Amareswara temple (dedicated to Lord Siva, present in the form of a 15-foot-tall, white-marble Siva lingam), Mahachaitya (The Great Stupa, built around the 2nd century, with intricate carvings that depict the life and teachings of Lord Buddha) and Buddhist sculptures and slabs with Buddhist inscriptions.

Mega project: Preliminary proposals were to construct 20-storeyed towers to house families of about 15,000 to 20,000 employees. The cost of mega project is estimated at about Rs.2,600 crore. Of this 80 per cent would be the share of HUDCO and State government would bear 20 per cent.

Heritage development: Amaravathi is among 12 cities selected for implementation of the Heritage Development and Augmentation Yojana in the first phase.

Joint capital: Hyderabad will remain the joint capital of AP and Telangana for 10 more years till Amaravati is ready. The design suggests that the proposed greenfield capital will have an extensive road network, covering over 1,000 kms

Tourism: With Amaravati being a key constituent in the Buddhist circuit, a 250-km religious tourism circuit has been incorporated into the core capital region.

Timeline: A long road to Amaravati

The Hindu, October 23, 2014

March 14, 2014: The date of June 2 is set for the formal bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh into Telangana and residuary Andhra Pradesh states.

June 8: Chandrababu Naidu takes office as chief minister of residuary Andhra Pradesh.

July 22: The State Government says new capital will be between Vijayawada and Guntur.

Oct. 30: Agriculture Minister P. Pulla Rao says the new capital will built upon 30,000 acres of land across 17 villages -- 14 in Tullur mandal and three in Managalgiri mandal. Land will be acquired through land pooling and landowners would be persuaded. The old Vijayawada-Guntur-Tenali-Mangalagiri Urban Development Authority would be abolished and a new Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) would be constituted.

Dec. 8: Chief Minister unveils the land pooling policy and compensation package for land owners. Patta holders in dryland areas will get a fully developed residential plot of 1,000 sq. yards and a commercial plot of 200 sq. yards. For assigned land owners: 800 sq. yards residential and 100 sq. yards commercial. In the jareeb lands close to the river banks, patta owners are to get 1,000 sq. yards residential and 300 sq. yards commercial. Assigned land owners here would get 800 sq. yards residential and 200 sq. yards commercial. In addition, dryland owners would get Rs. 30,000 a year as annuity for 10 years to compensate for the loss of agricultural income with a Rs. 3,000 increase per year. For jareeb farmers: annuity of Rs 50,000 per year with a Rs. 5,000 increase every year.

Dec. 31: Government notifies an area covering 7068 sq. km as the broader AP Capital Region and 122 sq. km as the Capital City region. The AP Capital Region Development Authority Act, 2014 comes into force.

Jan. 3, 2015: Municipal Administration Minister P. Narayana releases gazette notification for the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS) at Nelapadu village.

Feb. 27: Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu announces enhanced package for jareeb farmers in river front villages: 1000 sq. yard residential plots plus 450 sq. yard commercial plot per each acre surrendered. Similar enhanced package extended to farmers in the semi-urban villages of Navuluru, Yerrabalem, Undavalli, Penumaka and Bethapudi. government also annuity of Rs 30000 per year to farmers in upland areas and Rs.50,000 per year to jareeb farmers even if they have less than an acre.

March 5: Jana Sena party chief Pawan Kalyan warns of an indefinite fast if the Government tries to forcibly acquire land from farmers. Visiting Undavalli, he says he has no problem if farmers give their land voluntarily. “But I will fight if I come to know that your land is being taken away forcibly.”

April 1: Cabinet approves Amaravati as the name of the new capital. It’s named after the mythological City of the Gods.

May 26: Singapore’s Second Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran hands over master plan for Amaravati. He calls it the People’s Capital and says it will be a “very liveable city”. He says the plan envisages use of green spaces and natural assets with emphasis on public transport.

June 7: Chandrababu Naidu performs the bhoomi puja for Amaravati. Announces his resolve to develop it into an economic hub to beat even Singapore.

July 21: The government of Singapore presents a master plan for the seed capital area (SCA) of Amaravati. The plan defines the exact locations of the legislative and administrative buildings and the downtown area. The seed capital is spread over an area of 16.9 sq. km., enveloping three villages: Lingayapalem, Tallayapalem and Uddandarayapalem. The seed capital is planned for three lakh residents.

Aug. 24: Jana Sena Chief Pawan Kalyan visits riverfront villages again to meet farmers who are protesting that their lands are being acquired through coercion.

Aug. 27: YSR Congress chief Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy declares that all farmers will get their land back if his party is voted to power. “The TDP Government is not going to last long. It will be shortly bundled out and thrown into the Bay of Bengal,” he says. Oct. 11: National Green Tribunal (NGT) asks State Government not to proceed with work in the capital area until the Amaravati project gets environmental clearance. But the State Government says the NGT’s concerns will not be an impediment to the foundation stone ceremony on Oct. 22.

Oct. 17: Preparations to celebrate the Amaravati foundation ceremony gather speed.

Oct. 18: Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu meets Telangana CM K. Chandrasekhar Rao to invite him to the ceremony.

Oct. 21: All set for the Amaravati foundation ceremony at Uddandarayunipallem on Oct. 22.

History, future plans


No development of a new state capital has generated so much excitement as has Amaravati, whose foundation stone was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Vijaya Dasami 2015. The backdrop in which Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated, the journey of the residual state from scratch, an experienced Chandrababu Naidu winning the public mandate, the selection of the Vijayawada-Guntur region for building the new capital, mobilisation of the best expertise and experience for the project have all added to the hype. Amaravati, capital of Andhra Pradesh Amaravati, capital of Andhra Pradesh It's a rebirth of sorts for Amaravati, an ancient city on the banks of the Krishna river in Guntur district. Historically, Amaravati was the capital of Satavahanas, the first great Andhra kings who ruled from 230 BC to 220 BC after the downfall of the Mauryanempire. An ancient centre of Buddhist learning, it boasts of Mahachaitya, the Great Stupa, with intricate carvings that depict the life and teachings of Lord Buddha, Buddhist sculptures and slabs with Buddhist inscriptions. By using the name Amaravati, Naidu managed to strike an emotional chord especially with countries like Singapore and Japan, where Buddhism is the most widely practised religion. While Singapore has prepared three master plans for the Andhra capital and is ready to partner in its development, Japan has also come forward to contribute with its experience and technology. "We in Japan from our young days have learnt that this great land of Amaravati was a great seat of learning for Buddhism right from 3rd century BC and here is where the seed of Japanese nation's culture and values have emerged. In our text books we learnt that Nagarjuna (one of the most important Buddhist philosophers after the Buddha) visited the city," said Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Yosuke Takagi said at the groundbreaking ceremony. "

Naidu believes the new capital has the strength of both the 'vastu' and the auspicious name. He even sprinkled water and soil brought from holy places of all faiths and from across the state with the hope that this will give further strength to Amaravati. Proximity to well-developed cities like Vijayawada and Guntur, availability of Krishna river water, vast land, scenic beauty and Naidu's grandiose plans attracted everybody's attention. According to the master plan for the Seed Capital Area (SCA), the core city will be spread over 16.9 square km. Amaravati will comprise nine cities - knowledge city, financial city, health city, tourism city, government city, sports city, electronics city, justice city and education city. The capital city has been planned for about 300,000 residents. Its first phase is expected to be completed by 2018. It provides a transport hierarchy that comprises of an integrated network of Metro rail network of about 12 kms, bus rapid transit of about 15 kms, downtown road of about 7 km, arterial roads and sub-arterial roads of about 26 kms and collector roads of about 53 kms, with varying rights-of-way. The landscape would create world class aesthetic appeal to make city liveable and attractive. Special emphasis has been laid on development of extensive walkways and pedestrianisation, interlinked with open and green spaces with a blue and green network of more than 25 kms to promote walk-to-work environment and non-motorised transport. Naidu has invited companies from Singapore, Japan, China and other countries to participate in the development of the state capital, which needs over $2 billion. With the process of designing and conceptualisation over, the real work on building the capital starts now. Naidu faces a challenge in mobilising the funds from the central government and investments from abroad. With the Centre yet to clearly indicate when the state will get the special category status or special package, Naidu may have to wait longer to begin the real work to develop his dream city.

Amaravati: From mythology to reality

The Hindu, October 21, 2015

The seed capital plan of Amaravati reflects how the area will be a beehive of commercial and administrative activity with several high rises planned in the core area. The seed capital plan of Amaravati reflects how the area will be a beehive of commercial and administrative activity with several high rises planned in the core area.

Touted to be modelled after Singapore, Amaravati is projected as a city that would be rich in greenery, industrialisation and energy-efficient buildings.

The foundation stone for Andhra Pradesh's new capital Amaravati will be laid today. Pitched as a world-class riverfront capital city, Amaravati will be an energy-efficient and green city with concentration on industrial hubs. Here is a look at the layout plans of the new capital and its rich history:

A world class city in the making

» Core capital area is spread across 16.9

» Amaravati will cater to a population of 11.5 million

» To create 3.3 million jobs by 2035

» Open and green spaces to cover 40% of capital area

» Mega city will be linked to seven regional centres which in turn will become industrial hubs

Mobility and Accessibility

30 km Public waterfront

250 km Religious tourist circuit

12 km Metro rail network

7 km Downtown road

300 km Bike and walkways

1000 km Internal road network

15 km Bus rapid transit

53 km Collector roads

In a wide-ranging interview with The Hindu, the Chief Minister spoke of his passion for the State’s new capital, the foundation ceremony of which he is organising on a grand scale tomorrow. Amaravathi, the capital for Andhra Pradesh after bifurcation, is to be a fabulous riverfront city modelled on Singapore. But quite a few hurdles loom ahead

A financial and business hub

The seed capital plan for the new capital Amaravati, unveiled by the Singapore agencies, projects the core capital region more as a hub of financial and business activities than a place to live in.

Foundation for Amaravati: in pictures Preparations are on in full swing at Uddandarayunipalem village in Guntur district for getting the venue for foundation stone laying ceremony of Amaravati Seed Capital.

Those who invested in Amaravati

U Sudhakar Reddy, January 23, 2020: The Times of India

Amaravati- Property amid poverty
From: U Sudhakar Reddy, January 23, 2020: The Times of India

HYDERABAD: Claiming to have unearthed a major land scam in Amaravati, the Andhra Pradesh police has revealed that some of the poorest people in the state have been shown as owners of lands running into crores.

According to an investigation by CID, 797 white ration card-holders, each with a monthly income of less than Rs 5,000, bought lands worth Rs 220 crore in Amaravati in 2014 and 2015. The state CID has now written to the Income Tax department and Enforcement Directorate asking for an investigation into possible tax evasion and money laundering in the deals. The letter, a copy of which is with TOI, states that the investigation found that many of the land buyers did not even have PAN cards and paid no income tax.

After Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh in 2014, the then TDP government had announced that Amaravati would be the new capital of bifurcated AP and pooled 33,000 acres of land in the region next to Vijayawada. The YSRCP government that came to power in 2019, however, decided to have three separate capitals with Amaravati having only the assembly and all government offices would shift to Visakhapatnam.

After detecting that white ration card holders were being shown as landowners, CID registered a case of cheating and criminal conspiracy. In the letter to the to the Andhra Pradesh income tax chief commissioner sent on Wednesday, CID officials stated, “…the investigating officer examined the registrations of suspicious land done during 2014 and 2015 in Amaravati capital area of AP. It came to the light that huge cash transactions took place in purchasing the lands.”

The cops have given the I-T officials details of the purchasers, their address, size of land sold, sale deed and market value of the land. ED officials, on the other hand, have been asked to look into possible money laundering in the land deals.

Almost all the 797 white ration card holders, who bought 761 acres in the Amaravati capital region, are residents of Guntur, the investigation has shown. Of these, 529 don't have PAN cards. The CID investigation found that the highest number of suspicious transactions took place in Thulluru Mandal where the core capital city of Amaravati was planned and the temporary secretariat and high court buildings have come up.

CID has already registered a case against former Minister of Telugudesam party Pattipati Pulla Rao and P Narayana regarding the purchase of assigned land.

The World Bank loan

2019: WB pull-out sparks a political feud

Gopi Dara, July 20, 2019: The Times of India

A day after the World Bank pulled out of funding the construction of Amaravati, planned as the new capital of Andhra, a political war has broken out with former chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu slamming his successor Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy.

The Rs 4,900-crore project was Naidu’s brainchild. After YSR Congress came to power in May, Jagan Mohan had instituted an inquiry into the alleged misuse of funds, pending which work had come to a standstill.

Naidu, who initiated the project in 2016 to get a loan of over Rs 2,000 crore, expressed his anguish in the assembly on Friday: “You have been repeatedly sending false complaints (to the World Bank)... Now in power, you are terrorising the people with your decisions, which is why the bank withdrew.”

However, government chief whip G Srikanth Reddy said that the World Bank had found several irregularities in the project.

He said World Bank representatives had toured the area in 2017 and held public hearings with farmers, agricultural labourers and Dalits, who had complained against violations of existing rules in land pooling.

The Capital Region Development Authority, which is overseeing the construction, had moved a proposal for infrastructure development almost three years ago. The World Bank had readily agreed to the loan after seeing that the government had pooled nearly 33,000 acres of land, reportedly given voluntarily by farmers. However, it decided to reconsider its decision after farmers began protesting against the previous government’s irregularities. Farmers who have land on the river bank also raised concerns about violation of environmental laws and land-pooling rules. Sources also added that the World Bank decided to drop the proposal due to the Centre’s objection to its demand to take up independent investigation into project implementation. The Centre was of the opinion that an independent investigation by the World Bank was against the prescribed norms and could become a precedent, allowing the agency to demand the right to investigate other projects in India funded by it, they said.

“Once allowed, it might want to initiate investigations into other projects funded by it. Implementation of any project is the sole right of the borrowing agency,” said a senior government official. The lending agency can scrutinise a proposal before granting the loan, but not after the loan is sanctioned, he explained.

The project is abandoned

Srikanth Aluri, Sep 12, 2019: The Times of India

Jammula Malleswara Rao, a farmer from Tulluru, remembers the day he bought an earthmover and leased it to a corporate house. In his mind he had prepared himself for busy days ahead. His machine has been idle for over two months now. “It is rusting in the sun and rain,” he said, his face creased with worry. “I don’t know what to do. I have no money to pay my staff.”

Rambabu, always the optimist, is in deeper gloom. He had purchased three earthmovers with a loan of Rs 60 lakh that he got from private finance companies. He pays close to Rs 70,000 as EMI and then there are salaries of employees to think about. “I’ve put the machines on sale. I am on the verge of defaulting on instalments,” he complained.

Amravati, the new capital proposed for Andhra Pradesh, is on shaky ground. Former CM Chandrababu Naidu had planned this as a model city, which was to be built at a cost of Rs 2 lakh crore. So far, Rs 10,000 crore has been sunk into the project, but CM Jaganmohan Reddy has slammed the brakes.

Construction activities screeched to a halt after elections to the Lok Sabha and state assembly in July. Hotels and restaurants are empty, new houses look haunted, auto showrooms have no buyers. World Bank and AIIB, which together were to pump in $300 million, pulled out of the Amaravati capital region project soon after the polls. After clinching victory, Jaganmohan quickly announced an inquiry into allegations of corruption. And he stayed quiet on whether Amaravati would be the capital at all.

When Naidu had made public the location of the new state capital in 2014 — backed then by PM Narendra Modi — land prices skyrocketed in the rural Tulluru and Mangalagiri mandals, the core capital areas. Prosperity and investment swept the region. Farmers sold swathes of land in the unprecedented boom in real estate and moved to what promised to be a lucrative business, putting money into construction-related machinery such as earthmovers, tippers and tractors. Some got into housing for the floating population working in multiple projects and others started appliances shops, supermarkets, hotels, creating a grand urban ecosystem. Corporate houses such as L&T, Shapoorji Pallonji and NCC, which bagged various contracts, hired vehicles leased by local residents. Everyone was upbeat, starry-eyed.

Today there’s hopelessness all around. Farmers want to return to agriculture but largescale construction in the last four years has turned fertile lands barren. Moreover, they have been levelled and infrastructure such as bore wells, drip irrigation systems, power connections are wiped out. Worse, the map is redrawn.

“We cannot take up cultivation even if we want to,” said Shaik Subhani, who once owned three acres at Venkatapalem on the banks of the Krishna. These days he makes a living selling bitter gourd by the roadside, which is almost always deserted. Even if land were to be returned, legal hurdles abound.

The Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA)’s works have ensured physical boundaries have been erased. The revenue department may have old records on paper, but those are of little use now. Over the last five years, hotels came up, supermarkets and shops mushroomed and farmers made houses they rented to staffers of companies who were on site to build Amaravati. About 1,500 engineers lived as tenants in Tulluru, Mandadam and Velagapudi. Rents skyrocketed. Farmers who had become landlords are today saddled with a stock of empty houses. About 70% of the living quarters in the capital’s ‘villages’ are vacant.

The population in the capital city area had more than doubled. There was an influx of workers and employees of the secretariat, high court and other government bodies, and students and teachers of various educational institutions that had sprung up around Amaravati. Twenty thousand workers have left, according to Muppalla Anil, who had opened a supermarket at Tulluru.

The high-pitched publicity blitzkrieg — there were supposed to be shiny skyscrapers, landscaped gardens, picturesque lakes, metro rail — had attracted IT professionals, doctors, businessmen et al of Andhra and Telangana who viewed Amaravati as the place to invest in, make a career. They took bank loans to start up and buy property. Land went for Rs 80 lakh to Rs 2 crore per acre.

But the prices have fallen steeply, almost to half. The state’s housing project, Happy Nest — multi-storied, posh — has gone from class investment for the non-resident Telugu diaspora to a loss-making venture. It was a matter of record, and pride, when all 1,200 expensive flats were booked within minutes of opening. The first 300 were snapped up in under a minute. Satish Dhawan from Hyderabad was one of those who had booked a flat in Happy Nest. “Everyone called me up and congratulated me,” he told TOI. “They said I had bagged a golden opportunity. Now they are all full of sympathy for me.” 

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