Novel models for Seemandhra capital

Residual state plans decentralised model

Leading political parties have projected economic model along the lines of Singapore

The sense of deprivation following the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh and the burden of building a new capital for Seemandhra has turned into a determination to convert the need into an opportunity to build a world class city. While Chandigarh was designed by Le Corbusier, with a sprinkle of individual projects presented by different eminent architects such as Pierre Jeanneret, Jane Drew and Maxwell Fry, a few individuals and political parties have submitted their vision documents to the five-member committee headed by ­­­Union Urban Development Secretary K Sivaramakrishnan, formed to recommend a site for the new capital.

Other members in the committee include Aromar Revi, Director, Indian Institute for Human Settlements, Bangalore; Jagan Shah, Director National Institute of Urban Affairs, New Delhi; K T Ravindran, former Dean, School of Planning and Architecture, New Delhi; and Rathin Roy, Director, National Institute of Public Finance and Policy, New Delhi. 

The committee has sought suggestions from the general public and individuals about the site and the model. The committee has time till August 31 to suggest a new capital to the residual state of Andhra Pradesh. The new government will have 10 years to complete the construction work and shift to the new capital.

Even before the Committee was formed, the Hyderabad-based Vaada Foundation that works in the area of urban transport planning has come up with a model for an Assembly building for the new capital, and forwarded it to the Group of Ministers overseeing the process of bifurcation. The Assembly model has helped parties such as the TDP and the YSR Congress to come up with their own vision for the new capital for residual Andhra Pradesh. Both the parties have projected a marine and port-based economic model for Seemandhra along the lines of Singapore. The BJP has suggested a petro-chemical and hardware-based model for the residual state.

The Vaada Foundation has submitted a 50-page document specifically on the urban transport planning for Seemandhra with the help of IIT, New Delhi, and i-TRAN of Delhi. This Delhi-based consultancy has sent its experts to Seemandhra for a five-week trip before making their suggestions. Armed with the report, the founder of Vaada, a young entrepreneur Suresh Raju met Nara Chandrababu Naidu of the TDP and Y S Jaganmohan Reddy of the YSRC to impress upon them that building a new capital would cost around Rs 2.5 lakh crore.

“It is wrong to say that Naidu has centralised development in Hyderabad, as there is no other city in Telangana region that could have sustained the expansion. But in Seemandhra are many cities such as Vijayawada, Visakhapatnam, Nellore and Tirupati to facilitate the decentralised development model,” said Suresh Raju.

Unlike the politicians who are promising Metro rail facility linking Seemandhra cities, Raju says that a Metro requires a minimum population of 50 lakhs to make such mega projects viable.

Raju, who has an MBA from the UK, said that the five crore people of Seemandhra are hurt by the way their hopes were dashed by bifurcating the state. “If the government gave us our state during the 1972 agitation, we would have been better off,” Raju said. He has sought the help of the Mumbai-based Khatter and Associates to design the Assembly building for the capital city to give some hope to the people of Seemandhra that the funds to be granted by the union government could be put to good use.

The first model includes the Assembly and the Legislative Council and several conference halls with a carpet area of more than two lakh square feet. The proposal says Assembly building should be built with red and cream coloured slate stones from Rajasthan and should have entrance from all the four sides. The eco-friendly and energy-efficient model has attracted the attention of senior Congress leaders such as Jairam Ramesh and Digvijay Singh who appreciated the efforts saying that it would give a hope to the people of Seemandhra and prepare them for the humongous task of building a new capital. As the models submitted by the NGOs, political parti­es and individuals reach the Sivaramakrishnan’s committee and a final decision will take time, the demand to make Seemandhra capital the second capital of the country is gaining momentum. “If the Union Government is willing to invest more than Rs two lakh crore on a new state capital, itcould as well develop it as its winter capital or a gateway to South India,” Raju says.

However, the demand for developing the new place as winter capital has been put on the back burner as the TRS and the like-minded groups see that demand as an effort to snatch Hyderabad from Telangana.

Dr Baba Saheb Ambedkar had also envisaged Hyderabad-Secunderabad as a second capital for the country. “Now Seemandhra should get that chance,” demands Dr Yalamanchili Sivaji, prominent Seemandhra leader from Guntur. He is also pitching for capital status to the Vijayawada-Guntur-Tenali tricity area.

Many argue that the premier institutions promised for Seemandhra such as IIT, IIIT, IIM, Petro University, Tribal University, an AIIMS-level medical institution should be established in different cities so that the development will be even. “There could be two capitals, one in Rayalaseema and the other in Coastal Andhra, so that the Rayalaseema region enjoys the fruits of division,” says T G Venkatesh, former minor irrigation minister and prominent Rayalaseema leader.

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