On Thursday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation stone for Amaravati, a splendid new capital city being planned for Andhra Pradesh in the state’s Guntur district. Having pooled 33,000 acres of land and readied the master plan for resource-raising and construction, the state government, according to chief minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu, is confident that the new seat of the state government would come up amid a picturesque, diverse and modern city on the bank of the river Krishna by 2018.
According to official sources, a master developer who will be selected under the Swiss challenge bidding model would mobilise the resources for the massive project, estimated to require investments to the tune of Rs 4 lakh crore, most of it from the private sector under suitable public-private partnership models. Half of the pooled land, offered by people assured of a creditable share in the ensuing prosperity, would be used for creating common infrastructure, while the capital complex itself would occupy 7,500 acres, the sources added.
“Amaravati will be developed as a port-based capital between two industrial townships, home to economic activities,” Naidu said, adding that the planned urban agglomeration, named after an ancient Buddhist city in the region, will look to retain its historical significance.
The Singapore government had a few months ago submitted the Seed Capital Area (SCA) Master Plan for Amaravati and, under this, an area of 16.9 sq km would be developed in five phases.
The larger project is three-layered one. Apart from the SCA, it includes the capital city and the broader capital region. The civic district — the seat of government — will come up on the banks of the Krishna and will house the legislature, executive and judiciary.
Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) commissioner N Srikant told FE that farmers from 29 villages have given their consent for the capital formation. “Amaravati will have over nine sub-cities with focus on healthcare, electronics, financial sector, entertainment and knowledge, among other things. Each city will be spread across 6,000 acres and have its own ecosystem. These cities will be completed by December 2018,” Srikant said.
The city will have a capacity to accommodate a population of 25-30 lakh initially A metropolitan region of over 8,300 sq km with a population of 1-1.3 crore would come into being by 2050, according to the people involved in the planning process.
The state government, sources said, has already passed orders stating that 153 villages will be part of CRDA, 123 in Krishna district and the rest in Guntur district.
“The mobilisation of funds will be through a master developer, to be chosen by the Swiss challenge method. He will have to bring in investments using PPP modes,” said Parakala Prabhakar, media advisor to the Andhra Pradesh government. Under the Swiss challenge method for award of projects, a public authority makes public the details of the bid it received for a project and allows third parties to beat the proposal. Whoever pitches in finally with the most attractive offer will bag the project. Given the state government’s funds constraints and the fact that the Centre’s assistance could be limited, private investments including from countries like China and Singapore would form the major chunk of the resources for the project. “Companies from Japan, China and Singapore have evinced interest in being partners in the capital construction through a participatory mode,” said an official source.
Explaining how the land pooling was done, Prabhakar said: “The offer to hand over developed plots in addition to annual payments from the income created out of the land development for the next 10 years have convinced the land owners.” He said half of the land procured will be utilised for common assets — roads, open spaces, social infrastructure, etc, and the rest will be developed by the government. The developed plots will be allotted to landowners close to their lands within three years.
However, there are still some dissenting voices from the farming community. “It will be a long wait till we see the fruits of the capital formation,” said Ramaiah, a farmer from Thullur village.
“It is true that 2018 may not be a far off date but the survival of farmers like me till then remains unanswered,” added another farmer at Uddandapalem village.