Chandigarh was a long time ago, but arguably, no development of a new state capital has generated as much excitement and hype as Andhra Pradesh’ Amaravati city. While India is looking up to Amaravati as a modern day, even ‘futuristic’ capital that may well become a template for India’s 100 smart cities project, the city itself has a rich and glorious past. Prime Minister Narendra Modi also hoped that Amaravati will be a model for his government’s urbanisation effort and the initiative to develop 100 Smart cities. Here we present 10 points of note:
1. 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 Mauryan empire.
2. An ancient centre of Buddhist learning, Amaravati 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.
3. By using the name Amaravati, Andhra Pradesh CM N Chandrababu Naidu managed to strike an emotional chord especially with countries like Singapore and Japan, where Buddhism is the most widely practised religion.
4. While Singapore has prepared three master plans for Andhra Pradesh’ new capital Amaravati 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.
5. N Chandrababu Naidu believes Amaravati has the strength of both ‘vastu’ and an 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. By organising the ceremony on a grand scale and on Vijaya Dasami, Naidu has made a strong pitch for what he promises to be a world-class city and people’s capital.
6. Using his experience in developing Hyderabad as an information technology hub, Naidu has embarked on a mission to build Amaravati as country’s first Greenfield smart city, an economic and business hub, en energy efficient and sustainable city. 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.
7. According to the Amaravati 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.
8. Amaravati will provide a transport hierarchy that comprises of an integrated network of Metro rail 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.
9. Amaravati 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.
10. Naidu has invited companies from Singapore, Japan, China and other countries to participate in the development of Amaravati as the state capital, which needs over $2 billion spend. 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 IANS inputs)