Amaravati has regained the ‘capital’ status when Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi laid the foundation of the new capital city of bifurcated Andhra Pradesh on the auspicious day of Vijayadashami.
Amaravati is an important historic town, and served as the capital of the Satavahana Kingdom in ancient days. The recorded history of Amaravati and nearby Dharanikota dates to 2nd century BCE. It was the capital of Satavahanas who ruled from 2nd century BCE to 3rd century CE. After the decline of Satavahanas, Andhra Ikshvakus and later Pallava kings ruled Krishna river valley. Subsequently, Eastern Chalukyas and Telugu Cholas held sway over the region. Kota Kings were in control of Amaravati during the medieval times. Kota kings were subdued by Kakatiyas in 11th century CE and Amaravati became part of the unified Telugu empire. Amaralingeswara (Lord Siva) temple is associated with the reign of Vasireddy Venkatadri Nayudu who ruled the region before the advent of the British rule He was well known for his benevolence, munificence and for the construction of a large number of temples and education centers in the Krishna river delta. Vasireddy Venkatadri Naidu, was the last king who ruled was a great devotee of Amaralingeswara. He expanded and renovated the temple.
The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh Shri Chandrababu Naidu said wanted it to be a “people’s capital” and a haven of opportunities. At his call soil and water from 16,000 villages of the state and prominent pilgrim centres across the country have been brought to be used for the construction of the new city. And this soil and water was sprinkled over the area where the capital city is to be built, as a symbol of collective participation. Shri Narendra Modi too joined the call and brought holy water from River Yamuna and soil from the Parliament.
Speaking on this occasion, Shri Narendra Modi said that during NDA regime three new states were created when Atal Behari Vajpayee was Prime Minister, but there was no fighting and no blood was spilled. “Because of lack of political understanding and hurry, Andhra and Telangana were divided… I feel for the innocent people who lost their lives and property in the process,” he added. He promised to look into and extend co-operation to the state government in future.
Setting aside the bitterness in their relations with his Telangana counterpart K Chandrasekhar Rao, Shri Naidu personally invited him for the event. The grand event was attended by over four lakh people, besides ministers from Singapore and Japan – experts from the two countries are being consulted about the city plans – ambassadors from 14 countries, central ministers, top politicians, judges, industrialists and celebrities. The leaders of the Congress and YSR Congress boycotted the function.
In the run up to building the infrastructure for the new city, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu proved sceptics wrong when he successfully mobilised about 30,000 acres of prime agricultural land abutting the Krishna River in Vijayawada-Guntur region for the new capital. This is the first time ever that a capital city is being constructed in the country on parcels of land mobilised under the land-pooling concept wherein the owners get a share in the property post development and cost-escalation. They will get back almost 30 per cent of their pooled farmland as expensive city land.
Environmental, historical and social concerns apart, Amaravati sits pretty between two major cities -Vijayawada and Guntur -which will serve as catalysts for the growth of the new state capital. There are four national highways, one national waterway, the ‘Grand Trunk’ railway route, a fast expanding airport and a seaport in the vicinity thus ensuring a promising future industrially too.
As always this event was also controversial with Leftist parties also criticising the Chief Minister for excessive dependence on Singapore and Japan for capital city planning and execution. CPI (M) has termed the creation of Amaravati a scam in the making as the government's plan to create green zones will mean undue benefit to only the business community who is ready to invest in the capital city. More importantly, a section of residents in Rayalaseema, a backward region, they have been given a short-shrift by the unilateral decision to set up the state capital at Amaravati. —N Nagaraja Rao