Rekindling past glory of Amaravati

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  1. Oct 26, 2015

    satish

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    Rekindling past glory of Amaravati
    October 25,2015, 06.08 PM IST | | THE HANS INDIA

    How Naidu manages to structure PPPs and attract private investment — and gets people to pay for the services so as to make the PPPs viable, after a certain government subsidy, perhaps — will be the template for several other cities in the future; land pooling, similarly, has been tried before, but not on the scale that Naidu has done so far and needs to plan for. Then there is resentment brewing in Rayalaseema and North Coastal Andhra that Naidu is repeating the Hyderabad mistake by putting all his eggs in Amaravati this time.

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    At last Amaravati rekindled after long forgotten in the list of historic heritages by way of cynosure to lakhs on the momentous occasion of foundation brick laying ceremony on the auspicious day of Dasara festival – good conquering over evil. In the midst of green fields, the cacophony of hectic development enveloped to make history of Amaravati reverberate in the annals of Andhra Pradesh history.

    Amaravati, being built on the banks of the Krishna River is India’s first greenfield smart city and could well be the precursor for more such cities. The Amaravati Seed Capital Area (SCA) — as designed by Singapore’s Surbana Jurong — spread over 16.9 sqkm with an 8-km frontage on the Krishna, will be the core of the city, housing government offices, business districts and a population of about 3 lakh people. Amaravati incorporates many new ideas that are critical for a large city, including transit-oriented development, modern waste collection and disposal mechanisms and maintaining the ecological balance with green spaces.

    From high-tech Cyberabad to historic Amaravati, the man seen like the CEO of Andhra Pradesh Inc in his earlier avatar and now a darling of industry is obsessed with realising this dream project at a whopping cost of Rs 1,00,000 crore, with help coming from Singapore, Japan and China.

    By creating a massive hype around Amaravati, Naidu is hoping investors will line up to bid for projects under the PPP mode. By getting the Singaporeans to help design and build the city, Naidu has given Amaravati a veneer of class. All this while, it has been about conceptualising the city. Now that foundation brick is laid, the real work begins, and that includes financing the city over the next 10-15 years. While the Centre will no doubt contribute to funding the city — Naidu has repeatedly reminded the Centre of its duties to the bifurcated state — a very large part of the funding has to come through the PPP route.

    While getting PPP is a challenge in even cities that are already developed — many highways have seen toll booths being vandalised by mobs and many PPP projects have had to go to the government for bailouts — getting them for a new city is going to be even more difficult, especially since land values in the area have already shot up dramatically. So far, Naidu has largely achieved what he set out to. His heart is set on a riverfront capital to emulate a London, a Paris, a New York.

    Bringing soil and water from different villages to Amaravati is another attempt to touch an emotional chord for what is being billed as "the People's Capital.” To build the city spread over 217 sq km — the capital region itself is planned at 7,420 sq km — the AP government has pooled 33,000 acres of land so far. Here, the owners sign over ownership rights to a single government body, which develops the land. Once done, it returns a smaller portion back to the original owner along with a fixed annual payment for 10 years. As the land gets developed, the value of the smaller portion could exceed the original value of the landholding. By doing that, Naidu has circumvented the problems arising over forcible acquisition of land.

    In doing so, he has, however, removed 33,000 acres from the fertile Krishna delta, a multi-crop land of prosperous farmers. Agricultural experts point out that the capital city has gobbled up more than 120 varieties of vegetables and horticultural crops, besides removing one lakh people away from agriculture - 85 per cent of them small farmers and landless farm labour.

    How Naidu manages to structure the PPPs and attract private investment — and gets people to pay for the services so as to make the PPPs viable, after a certain government subsidy perhaps — will be the template for several other cities in the future; land pooling, similarly, has been tried before, but not on the scale that Naidu has done so far and needs to plan for.

    Then there is the resentment brewing in Rayalaseema and north coastal Andhra that Naidu is repeating the Hyderabad mistake by putting all his eggs in Amaravati this time. The argument is that the decision to select Amaravati was also dictated by caste factor - given the Kamma dominance in Guntur and Krishna districts. The dream has begun for many people of Andhra Pradesh, but it will be a case of miles to go before anyone can sleep.

    By Javvadi Lakshmana Rao

    source: http://www.thehansindia.com/posts/index/2015-10-25/Rekindling-past-glory-of-Amaravati-182437
     

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