Seemandhra to get new capital

Panel sets deadline for 45 days

With the Union Cabinet announcing an expert committee to suggest a new capital for Seemandhra within one and a half month, the focus of the political leaders will now shift to hectic lobbying.

Hyderabad has emerged as a major bone of contention between protagonists and opponents of Telangana statehood. It will now be a common capital for only a decade or even less, forcing both Rayalaseema and Coastal Andhra regions to select a capital at the earliest.

While Rayalaseeema leaders want either Kurnool or Tirupathi to be the new capital, leaders from the north Coastal Andhra region are batting for Visakhapatnam. In the wake of stiff opposition from the Rayalaseema region against a new capital in the coastal Andhra region, Kurnool, which was initially the capital of Andhra, was always in the race. Cities such as Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Ongole and Tirupathi are also in the race.

While Hyderabad is destined to become the permanent capital of Telangana state, Ongole, the headquarters of Prakasam district about 300 km east of Hyderabad, may emerge as the next capital of the reconstituted state of Andhra Pradesh.

The government has already acquired nearly 30,000 acres of land in Ongole. The city is centrally located with a port, rail and good road connectivity. It lacks an airport and is poor in infrastructure.

Acute water shortage and no rivers in vicinity are the other the drawbacks. North Andhra leaders have proposed Vishakhapatnam and Seema leaders wanted Tirupati as capital, places that are crowded and have high land prices which do not make them a viable choice.

Visakhapatnam is an industrial city and is the headquarters of Eastern Naval Command.

Kakinada (rural) legislator K Kanna Babu, favouring a well developed Visakhapatnam  as capital, said: “We opposed division. As it is inevitable, developing a new capital and shifting the administration should be done as quickly as possible. We will be doing injustice to the people of the region by delaying growth, which is already stunted due to excessive focus on Hyderabad.” Tirupathi is close to Chennai but too far away from North-Andhra Pradesh districts such as Srikakulam, Vizianagaram and Visakhapatnam.

However, a senior minister from coastal district said: “The location of the new capital will also be decided by the expert committee. It may choose the surroundings of Vijayawada or Guntur as the region is centrally located. The infrastructure is also in place compared to other places.”

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