Petroleum Ministry's miscue fuels AP capital row

Petroleum Ministry's miscue fuels Andhra Pradesh capital controversy

In a clarification on Sunday, the ministry has stated that the capital column should be read as 'reference city'

Minister for petroleum and natural gas Hardeep Singh Puri. Credit: PTI Photo

A Union Petroleum Ministry's reply in Parliament on petrol-diesel price hikes has fueled controversy around which is the capital city of Andhra Pradesh.

The state's capital city matter is unsettled, with the Andhra Pradesh High Court reviewing a host of petitions challenging Chief Minister Jaganmohan Reddy's plan to set up three capitals for the state, executive at Visakhapatnam/Vizag, legislature at Amaravati and judiciary at Kurnool.

In his reply on July 26 to a question in Lok Sabha on the impact of rising fuel prices on the country’s inflation and economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, minister for petroleum and natural gas Hardeep Singh Puri laid a statement that included an annexure with state-wise break up of variation in levies and taxes from July 2020 to July 2021.

In this list, Visakhapatnam was shown as the capital of the state. At a time when Amaravati farmers-locals led and opposition TDP-supported agitation is going on to retain the area in Guntur as the sole mega capital of Andhra Pradesh as envisioned by former chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, the ruling YSRCP side saw this insertion as the Centre's acknowledgment of Reddy's plans.

Interestingly, the ministry reply also showed Ambala as the capital of Haryana and Jalandhar for Punjab, when Chandigarh is the common capital of both states.

However, in a clarification on Sunday, the ministry has stated that the capital column should be read as "reference city".

Also Read — Andhra Pradesh 'three capitals' case posted to November 15

“In the annexure, the details given in the third column mentioning the cities was only in the sense of giving a reference city for the purpose of state levies and duty prevalent in the concerned state. The heading of column number 3 may please be read as “Capital City/Reference City”. Lok Sabha secretariat is also being informed accordingly about the amendment in the reply,” a Press Information Bureau statement from Vijayawada said.

A three judge bench of the Andhra Pradesh High Court which met last week has adjourned the hearings in the capital shifting case to November 15.

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