The Andhra Pradesh government’s plan to build three capitals for the state is wrong and unwise. It will go against the interests of the people. Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy is known for his vindictiveness and arbitrariness and for lack of political maturity and sagacity. Ever since he came to power last year, he has been busy reversing the decisions of the previous government of Chandrababu Naidu and harassing him and his associates. The decision to go in for three capitals is part of the continuing project to undo Naidu’s decisions. After losing Hyderabad to Telangana on partition of the state, Naidu had embarked on building a greenfield capital at Amaravati, not far from Vijayawada. Land was acquired and work on development of the new city had started, and now there is a change of plan.
According to the new plan, the state will have an executive capital at Visakhapatnam, a judicial capital at Kurnool and a legislative capital at Amaravati. The secretariat and Raj Bhavan will be in Visakhapatnam, the legislature in Amaravati and the high court in Kurnool. The government has claimed that the division of the capital in three parts will promote inclusive and decentralised development of the state. But in practice, it will increase inefficiency and wastage of resources in a state which is already financially stressed. The three cities are hundreds of kilometres away from each other. Administration will suffer badly and people will be inconvenienced. Decentralisation does not mean the geographical division of the capital into three places and the functioning of the state from different places. Ministers, legislators, officials and people will be on the move over long distances, with uncertain gains and many difficulties.
Farmers whose land had been acquired for building Amaravati are protesting. The government has tried to appease them by promising that there will not be any reduction in compensation. It has charged Telugu Desam Party leaders with real estate and land speculation and corruption. The charges may not be wrong, but Reddy raising them against Naidu can only be a case of the pot calling the kettle black. A serious consequence of the decision will be the loss of trust of investors who want stability of government policies. The new government has already shaken the trust of investors by cancelling important contracts entered into by the previous government. But the government seems to be adamant on its capital plan. It has got the enabling legislation passed in the Assembly and is set to even scrap the Legislative Council to prevent it from voting against the plan. All in all, a Reddy-made Tughlaqian idea.