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Expat in Germany

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The People's city! Well, LOL!!

According to the Hindu mythology, Amaravati is the capital city for its roughly three crore Gods. Very metaphorically, the same name has been chosen by our democratic Gods, the politicians, for the new capital of Andhra Pradesh. Hyderabad is the combined capital for Telangana and Andhra Pradesh for ten years. The AP government has got a lot of time to think over multiple possibilities, discuss pros and cons of various locations for a capital city and slowly build it.

One has to remember that even though N.Chandrababu Naidu is credited to have led to the development of Hyderabad that is now, Hyderabad has been a well established capital city for more than 400 years. He only contributed to the growth of Hyderabad as a software hub which has had a tremendous impact on its development. Here development does not necessarily mean good. The development of Hyderabad occurred in a haphazard way even when the revenues multiplied. Maybe this is the reason why the people of Andhra Pradesh voted Telugu Desam Party(TDP) into power(here, the role of caste in electoral politics has been neglected for greater good). However, Amaravati is no Hyderabad. It is not perfectly placed like Hyderabad is, for a capital city. And almost every great capital city known in the world has centuries of notable history. Just because Babu is responsible for one small aspect of a city development does not mean he can architect the building of a city from scratch with the same vigor. He has never done that! More over, it seems very likely that the idea of the world class city, people's city, Amaravati itself is a huge scam.

Who do they want to deceive by projecting THIS as Amaravati!?
Many questions loom over this scandalous idea. What is the hurry in building the capital city? A new one that too!! There are many other established towns which can be grown into administrative capital cities. Hyderabad can be used as joint capital for ten years and Babu vowed not to administer from Hyderabad. So much for people's choice. Why the fertile location and that too adjacent to a life providing river? There are other places where there is not much water problem and can be developed into cities. What about the land pooling technique used to acquire lands for the city? Its not about the way it is done. In fact, the government should be applauded for fielding this idea. They saved the public some 7500 crore rupees. It is not about those farmers but it is about the fertile lands that were taken away. There is another big problem. Is building a new capital city worthier than containing those fertile lands? Is building a new capital city worthier than those 20-30,000 hectares of forests that will have to be cleared for the 'development' of the NEW, world class, people's capital city?? Well, can it any longer be called people's city? Is Amaravati a boon or bane in making?

In his speech during the inauguration of Amaravati, Chandrababu Naidu addressed the Prime Minister more than the public. Speaking in an English which is not expected of a Chief Minister, he urged the PM. "Hand holding saar," was what he used. "There is Hyderabad for Telangana, Bangalore for karnataka and Chennai is there, for Tamil Nadu. We don't have any income generation city." were the lines he used while describing the new city? What source of income is he looking for, when the rice bowl of the country is in that state? Is that not income? Does only software or banking or automobile industry generate income? What if the global trading crashes suddenly? Banks will close but people will still eat rice. Why not develop agriculture better in the state? And more surprisingly, help in planning and development of the city is seeked from Japan and Singapore. Japan, where agriculture accounts for less than 1% of the GDP and Singapore which has not even one square feet of agricultural lands are assisting in developing a capital city in one of the most fertile lands in the world! Why can't the government consider other indigenous ways? When we can make movies like Baahubali on our own, we can also build a capital city on our own too. Why take example from Japan, whose capital city is one of the most crowded places on the planet? Why not take, say, Ghana as an example where huge investments in bio-energy and agriculture contributes to 54% of its GDP. It is one of the richest countries of Africa. Hey Accra is also a well known historical and mythological place!

That brings to the question, why build a new city? Why not expand a well established town into a capital city? There could be different cities for different roles. When the Andhra Pradesh chief minister mentioned Karnataka, why could he not have gone a little beyond and considered Kerala!! Thiruvananthapuram is hardly ten kilometers in radius and does not boast of any IT, financial hubs. But there is no need to talk about the income of Kerala and especially its human development index. Ten kilometers out of Trivandrum and one sees himself in a forest! What about the forest cover that will vanish once the 'people's city' starts developing? Not only the 20,000 hectare forest the government is asking now, but the cover that will vanish once the city is established. With the 'Make in India' initiative, the center is quickly giving 'green' signals when it comes to environmental policies. This might dangerously be exploited. Lastly, imagine what might happen to the Krishna river if such a huge city is planned on its banks? The Krishna river is no small river. It is a lifeline to crores of living things. History gives us numerous examples. From Thames in London, to the Ganga in Kolkata, to the Yamuna in Delhi, to the Musi in Hyderabad. All the rivers have been destroyed. Hey Krsna!! Building a new, huge city is no small thing and these politicians are making it look like no big deal!

How come the people are willingly getting duped? Everyone seems to know only one thing. Andhra Pradesh is so poor that it needs special status. And, what is the motive behind organisations like the 'Telugu Association of North America(TANA)' to rally behind this idea? What have they got here? If it is all about caste, factionism, land grabbing and money looting, the sight of the future of the so called people's capital is far from distant. To think of what might last forever in Amaravati which means 'forever lasting city,' We can only well, laugh out loud!!
Excellent depiction by the Hindu about Amaravati