Mischievous though feeble attempts at derailing the construction of a world-class capital for the state were made, but to no avail, as the people stood solidly behind the State Government’s determined efforts.
A few self-proclaimed experts and some political adversaries were critical of the ‘grandiose’ plans of the Chief Minister to build a world class capital for Andhra Pradesh.
While some have problem with land pooling, others question the need to construct a capital city in around 30,000 acres. Both the objections are not only misleading, but are in fact, mischievous.
Take land pooling. This is the first time in the history of the country, and probably in this part of the world, that farmers came forward voluntarily to the call of the government to be stakeholders in the development of their own capital city. The compensation package was so attractive, and the future benefits were so reassuring that an overwhelming majority of farmers of the capital region handed over the papers to the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) in less than two months.
Governments have every right to acquire land under Land Acquisition Act for public purpose. And it was done so indiscriminately both within the state and across the country that the whole thing turned out to be contentious in many cases. In this backdrop, the initiative of AP Government to mobilize land through land pooling was not only novel but also proved to be mutually beneficial.
As for building an administrative capital in an area anywhere between 500 to 2,000 acres, it should be said that such arguments are based neither on ground reality nor on any appreciation of historical context of capital building for the newly formed state.
A capital city is not merely a few government buildings and some administrative offices. It cannot be just a place designated for file pushing amidst our surroundings. The capital is the political, economic, social and cultural expression of an entire people. Not every day do people get an opportunity to build a capital that will define their identity and that will nurture and serve them for generations.
The people of Andhra have had this historic opportunity at last. After having been deprived of a capital that they thought they were part of and having finally been dismembered into a headless state, Andhras now yearn for a capital city which they can call truly their own. It is as much an emotional and cultural issue, as it is a political and administrative one.
It is indeed ridiculous to see that some vested interests, who took acres of land for offices of their party outfits, and those who built palatial residential houses in hectares of land, should argue that the capital of nearly 50 million Andhra people should be an insignificant block of concrete structures without a soul.
Besides, it is a deliberate misinterpretation to say that the capital is being needlessly built in about 30,000 acres. The fact is that after the development of the infrastructure like roads, drains, parks, playground and other such common amenities and after handing over farmers’ share of the developed parcels, what remains for administrative, residential and recreational purpose is merely some 9,000 acres. Compare with this: Mumbai was spread across 1,49,000 acres, Delhi 3,66,000 acres, Chennai 1,05,000 acres, Benguluru 1,83,000 acres and Hyderabad 1,54, 441 acres.
What we need is a capital throbbing with people, and with cultural, economic and administrative activity, and not some lifeless, anonymous edifices. As the CM rightly put it, “The aim is to build an ultra-modern, world-class city with historical significance that provides opportunities to all sections”.