Capital concern for Andhra Pradesh as expert panel against focus on one city

Written by PTI | Hyderabad | Updated: Sep 1 2014, 01:46am hrs
Andhra Pradesh government is staring at an uphill task of developing a capital city for the state with an expert committee suggesting that the main government and other institutions be distributed across three different regions instead of the capital being established at any particular place.

Development of a capital city has become an emotional issue of sorts in Seemandhra as the region was first separated from the composite Madras state (after Independence) and, now, post the formation of the separate Telangana state, AP has been rendered without a capital of its own.

The ruling TDP has promised to build a capital city of world class standards, which would be accessible from all the regions of the state.

The report of the Centre-appointed committee, headed by former Union Urban Development Secretary KC Sivaramakrishnan, was submitted to the Union Home Ministry a couple of days back and made public last night.

The committee was appointed on March 28 this year (at the time of the formation of separate Telangana) and had been asked to submit its report by today. The report is expected to be discussed soon by the state Cabinet.

Media reports, meanwhile, claimed that the report has disappointed the TDP government as it had favoured the Vijayawada region for being developed as the AP capital. The decision in this regard is to be made by the state government.

The committee took note of the speculation that the capital could come up in the Vijayawada region because of its centrality. It, however, found no merit in the argument of centrality.

"That is mainly due to the common perception that the area is geographically central, lying between the Uttarandhra (north Andhra) coast and Rayalaseema, and well-connected.

"This connectivity, centrality and proximity are attractive concepts, but need not be the only ones for guiding development. In other states like Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra or West Bengal this geographical centrality does not exist," the report said.

Amidst competing demands from different places for being made the capital of AP, the committee suggested that the capital and other institutions be distributed across three different regions of the state.

"In keeping with the dominant objective of decentralised development of AP, the committee has identified three regions or sub-regions where capital functions and other institutions can be distributed," the report said.

These sub-region are: Vizag in Uttarandhra; the 'Rayalaseema Arc' comprising Kurnool, Anantapur, Tirupati, Kadapa and Chittoor; and the 'KalahastiNadikudi Spine', which refers to the land along the proposed KalahastiNadikudi railway line.

"It can be argued that having the secretariat, the commissionerates and directorate all in the same location will be convenient but, as already explained, communication between different government offices is no longer an issue of physical proximity.

"We recognise that our approach of distributed development is not conventional and may be regarded as inconvenient and impractical by many officials.

"But if distribution of development and governmental functions is desired in Andhra, we feel this approach should be followed," the report said.

The committee observed that in the present scenario, when the nature of governmental functions is both highly varied and innovative, there is no particular merit in seeking to locate all government offices at one location.

Compared to the situation which existed in the country soon after Independence, when entirely new cities like Chandigarh (with an area of about 115sq.km, including the existing city) and Gandhi Nagar (177sq.km), could be conceived and built, the committee felt that such large-scale acquisition of land and development is much more difficult now.

"It appears most unlikely that in AP, vast areas of government land on this scale will be available. On the other hand, the existing and proposed rail and road connectivity between different cities of AP, which can be significantly improved and expanded, renders the search for a single supercity location unnecessary," the report said.