Farmers protest against AP govt's idea of 3 capitals

Scores of farmers in Amaravati region, who gave up their fertile agricultural lands for the development of Andhra Pradesh's new capital city, took to the streets on Thursday protesting the YSRC government's fresh idea of having three capitals for the state. On December 17, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy hinted in the Assembly that the state could have three capitals Executive Capital in Visakhapatnam, Legislative Capital in Amaravati and Judiciary Capital in Kurnool.

The Chief Ministers statement triggered widespread protests, particularly in the central coastal region of the state. Farmers, along with their family members, organised road blockades in all the 29 villages that form the core capital of Amaravati. Later, they organised a massive dharna at Velagapudi, close to the temporary Secretariat, demanding that Amaravati be continued as the capital. Large contingents of police were deployed in the capital region to ensure that trouble of any sort did not break out. Police sealed the route leading to the temporary Secretariat.

The Chief Minister, who was scheduled to hold a meeting with the visiting members of the 15th Finance Commission in the Secretariat on Wednesday afternoon, shifted it to his camp residence in view of the farmers' agitation, police sources said. All political parties extended solidarity with the agitating farmers. Slogans like "We want justice" rent the air. "We have given up our fertile lands for the capital in the hope that it will lead to new development and change our future for the better. But now, our future has been pushed into the darkness," the farmers lamented. They criticised the Chief Minister for changing his stand on the capital and rescinding his promise on the development of Amaravati.

"If at all he wants to relocate the capital, the Chief Minister should return our lands in the same form they were taken in 2015," the farmers said. The TDP, which drew the plans for Amaravati, has vehemently opposed the thought of having three capitals at different locations. Other parties too called the Chief Minister's idea "imprudent," saying decentralisation should be in terms of development (of all the three regions of the state) and not in terms of administration. The government, though, maintained that a final decision on the capitals has not yet been taken and what the Chief Minister spoke was "just an idea." Information Minister Perni Venkataramaiah said a final decision on the capital would be taken only after the committee of experts, headed by retired bureaucrat G N Rao, submitted its report.

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