Cover Story : Making of a People’s Capital
Amaravathi as a proposed futuristic world class capital city will cover a site of about 217.23 km straddling on both sides of Krishna River in Guntur and Krishna districts. It will have one metro-Vijayawada, one large city–Guntur, nine medium cities and 291 small towns and villages well connected by highways, railways, airport and waterway.
On the auspicious day of Vijayadashami, i.e. on October 22, 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for new capital of Andhra Pradesh at Uddandarayunipalem village under Guntur district. After reorganisation in 2014, Hyderabad became the capital of Telengana. Hence, Andhra Pradesh needs to have a new capital, which it found at historic Amaravathi on the banks of sacred north flowing river Krishna.
Amaravathi has been the capital of Satvahan kings who ruled vast areas in Central and South Bharat from 230 BC onwards for about 450 years. It was during their tenure that Nagarjuna, the great Buddhist philosopher, initiated Mahayan sect here. Nagarjuna Konda, the hill named after him, has since been submerged in the Nagarjuna Sagar dam. Amaravathi also had the biggest 27 meter high Stupa built during the regime of King Ashoka, now lost in a mound. More recently, a 125 feet tall Dhyan Budhdha Stupa was built nearby. It is a very sacred place for Mahayan Buddhists—from Tibet, China, Japan and Indonesia. Little wonder therefore that Japan and Singapore are taking keen interest in building the new capital.
Governments of Singapore and Andhra Pradesh have collaborated for developing Amaravathi as the world class capital city. Master Plan for the capital region has already been drawn. Preparations for its first section are underway. The proposed capital region has an area of 7420 sq. kms covering one metro-Vijayawada, one large city– Guntur, nine medium cities and 291 small towns and villages. It falls on the East coast economic corridor and within Chennai-Vishakhapatnam industrial corridor. It is well connected not only by highways (NH5 & NH9), but also by railways where it will be connected with the dedicated freight corridor and the high speed railway, airport at Gannavaram, and also the national waterway, as it has two major ports viz. Chennai and Ennanor in South and Vishakhapatnam in North. It has five operational, seven under development and three proposed minor ports. Major hubs like Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Jagdalpur and Vishakhapatnam fall within a radius of 300-400 kms of the proposed capital.
The proposed capital region will have one central capital city region and seven development and growth corridors. The seven corridors will cover a radius of 30-45 kms and will connect with the major hubs within a radius of 300-400 kms including Chennai, Hyderabad, Jagdalpur and Vishakha-patnam. Gannavaram is being developed into an international airport and another one will be developed near Kaza on the NH5. In turn, they will be connected with each other by an outer Ring Road. National Waterway-4 will run not only through the Krishna River and Buckingham and Elluru canals, but also will connect Gannavaram and Tenali. This will facilitate low cost transportation for bulk goods and materials. By the year 2035, the new capital city is expected to have the population of 11 million with 3.3 million jobs. By 2050, the number of jobs may increase to 5.6 million for the expected population of 13.5 million. Apart from protected agricultural zones, it will develop industrial clusters for food and beverages, textiles, nonmetallic minerals, auto and auto components, pharmaceuticals, electronics, logistics, ITs, aquaculture and tourism, etc.
The capital city will have an area of 212 sq km, the seed capital or the first section of the city will have an area of 16.9 sq kms with 3 lakh population. The city will also have Navratnas or nine districts viz. knowledge, finance, health, tourism, government, sports, electronics, justice and education. The capital city may first develop into twin city with Vijayawada and then into a mega city combining also Manglagiri. It will have not only the Vijayawada bypass and the inner Ring Road forming a closed loop expressway within the city, but also a metro, MRT, BRT and hubs of dedicated freight corridor, the high speed railways and the national highways.
Planners are taking due care of various aspects of city life viz., safety, health, education, prosperity, community, physical, housing, public services, mobility, environment, recreation, culture and amenities. Not only it will be free from slums, it will be a green city in true sense with access to park for every citizen within easy walking distance. It will have water bodies as well as water front along the Krishna. It will have proper arrangements not only for water and power supply but also disposal of solid waste, waste water and storm water. For waste management, it will use 5 Rs—reduce, reuse, recycle, recover and remove.
As a smart city, Amaravathi will have ample live, work and play facilities with public transport within walking distance, easy access for all ages and origin to destination commute of 30 minutes. It will have world class multimodal transport system including international airport, high speed rail, metro, mass rapid transit, efficient highways, national waterways, dedicated freight corridor, smart grid, renewable energy and river front, etc. It will also have jobs, affordable housing and healthcare for all. It is another Singapore in the making.
Partners in Progress
First phase of the $2 billion (approximately 1.3 lakh crore) project is expected to be completed by 2018. It will come as a shock to the blockers of land acquisition for development to know that 30,000 acres of land for this project has already been acquired quietly and amicably under land pooling. It has shown the way to all progressive state governments to innovate the process of land acquisition by making landholders as partners in progress. In this case for every acre surrendered by them they will get about one fourth back as fully developed area—300 sq yards each for residential and commercial uses. By accepting a compensation of just Rs 30-50 thousand per acre per year for 10 years, they have each reserved a piece of future gold mine.
The Capital Region with its new port at Machilipatnam lies right in the centre of the state. Machilipatnam port has a great potential for inland trade centre for hinterland cities including Hyderabad. Not just in the region, the Capital Region lies centrally along the whole of the eastern coast; opening room to establish itself as the new ‘Eastern Gate of Peninsular Bharat’.
JP Dubey (The writer has expertise on development issues)