Uncertainty haunts small farmers and workers of the A.P. capital region. Some take pride in the fact their land would now be part of the “vibrant, world-class capital” promised by Mr. Naidu.
Will it resemble the other famed capital cities on rivers like London, Paris, Dublin, Amsterdam or just Singapore? Time alone will decide what shape Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister, N. Chandrababu Naidu’s dream capital, Amaravati, will take, as it rises from the predominantly pastoral Krishna river bank.
But for now as the city is all set to take its first baby steps in ten days when the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi lays foundation stone and kick-start works, amidst “spectacular extravaganza,” a wave of mixed emotions runs through farmers of about 25 villages where 30,000 acres of land pooling was completed, unprecedented in the country and with not much of resistance.
Some take pride in the fact their land would now be part of the “vibrant, world-class capital” promised by Mr. Naidu, while some wonder if they did the right thing by parting with rich fertile multi-crop land that fetched them good returns for generations. There are others, small and marginal farmers who feel let down by those having larger landholdings for not showing any resistance and forcing them to join the bandwagon. But the worst to suffer are tenant farmers and agriculture labour who see nothing but bleak future.
“I have given away ten acres, as everyone else, for our ‘rajadhani’(capital). I got the annuity of Rs. 30,000 an acre and bought 40 buffaloes. I will earn something by rearing them till they take over the land,” said Gudapati Sambasiva Rao of Mandadam where Mr. Naidu had performed “bhoomi puja,” a pre-foundation laying ceremony and where farming has come to a halt. Quite happy that he got some compensation promptly, he appears reconciled. Others, especially farm labourers, differ. “How will I run my family till the capital comes up and where will I fit in the new city?” asks Venkateswara Rao of Krishnayapalem.
Notwithstanding these mixed feelings, at Uddandapalem village, work is in full swing with bulldozers and earthmovers clearing the agriculture fields for the foundation-laying function on Dasara festival. Mr. Naidu chose this sleepy village in tune with “vaastu,” to transform it into city piazza with iconic twin towers in the years to come. Not just towers, he has other ambitious plans for Amaravati, when translated means city that lives forever.
These encompass a bustling commercial hub, Amaravati Downtown, the Central Boulevard, the River Krishna Boulevard, the Gateway, the 17-km-long Waterfront and the Government Core. The downtown will be the first to come up and act as central spine and going by the master plan for the seed capital, “buildings in this node will be designed in a way that they will have direct access to the metro rail stations through landmark towers.”
Looks quite impressive on drawing board especially the way Mr. Naidu connected the city to the historic 2,000-year-old glory of ancient Amaravati, but concerns remain. Can the city full of skyscrapers stand on weak foundation typifying the river bank? How will it overcome the risk of frequent floods though the Chief Minister talks of converting them into navigational canals where employees can reach their workplace riding a boat? Will the city be sustainable with ambitious migrant population projections? Will the poor find space in what is being planned as a highly regimented ultra modern city? How about funding?
AP Capital Region Development Authority Commissioner N. Srikant is confident of finding solutions: “Technology will take care of soil and flooding. We are confident of the Amaravati’s exponential growth given its potential, its magnetic capacity to attract investment backed by entrepreneurial nature of its inhabitants. None will be left out and we will impart right skills to the landless and agriculture labourers. The government will spend on creating top class infrastructure and funds will flow automatically from the private sector.”