Why did Andhra Pradesh Government scrap the bill to introduce three capital cities?

CM Reddy announced that the Andhra Pradesh government has repealed the bill to form three capital as High Court started to hear petitions by Amravati farmers.

The Andhra Pradesh assembly has unanimously passed the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Repeal Bill, 2021, through a voice note on Monday. The act passed in January 2020 was for making a way to introduce three capitals for the state instead of proceeding with the previous TDP’s regime of developing the current capital.

The chief minister of the state, YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, had made the surprise announcement on Monday even after the assembly had repealed the bill concerning the contentious act of introducing three capitals. The Minister for Finance, Planning, and Legislative Affairs, Bugganna Rajendranath Reddy, has introduced the bill in the assembly.

What is the bill?

Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act 2020 was passed in 2020 to allow the state to have three capitals – Amravati (Legislative capital), Kurnool (Judicial capital) and Vishakapatnam (Executive Capital) – along with a repeal bill of TDP’s proposal.

But after YSR Congress came to power in 2019, it had decided to reverse the previous government’s decision to build a world-class capital city in Amravati. Thus, it introduced the bill to make three new state capitals.

TDP party has selected Amravati as the sole capital of the state. They had acquired around 33,000 acres of farmlands from 29 villages on the assurance of making a world-class capital city and monetary compensation. While moving from Hyderabad, the party had built houses and offices of officers, judges, a high court, legislative complex in Amravati.

Reasons for the repeal by the Andhra Pradesh government

More than a hundred petitions challenging the government’s intention to make three state capitals have been filed before the AP High Court. Most of them were backed by TDP. Amravati farmers who had given their land to the government wanted the new government to stick to the previous plan and build a world-class city in Amravati.

On Monday, Advocate General Subrahmanyam Sriram informed the government’s decision in an affidavit in the High Court, which had recently started to listen to these petitions. Sriram said that the government would repeal the Act.

CM Reddy said that the government would introduce a better and more comprehensive bill after fixing the loopholes in the previous one. He even blamed the opposition for creating legal hurdles and choosing a city that does not even have proper roads. The total cost to build the basic infrastructure at the time of shifting was one lakh crore. It might escalate to 5 or 6 lakh crore in 10 years. “The Act was being withdrawn in the larger public interest,” he added.

Will AP have one capital now?

It is doubtful that whether the government will have only one capital as the CM kept on stressing the need for decentralization for the equitable development of the region. He did not set any deadline for the new bill.

Son of TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu and party’s national general secretary, Nara Lokesh, blamed the government for spreading “lies” and “half-truths”. He added that the previous government had taken all care to develop Amaravati as the capital for equitable justice and development of all regions.

He also reminded people that the CM had promised to develop Amravati during elections in 2019. Meanwhile, BJP said that the government decided to repeal the bill, fearing an adverse order from the High Court.

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