Amaravati is the de facto capital city of the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. The planned city is located on the southern banks of the Krishna river in Guntur district, within the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region. The foundation stone was laid on 22 October 2015, at Uddandarayunipalem area by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi. The metropolitan area of Guntur and Vijayawada are the major conurbations of Amaravati.
Excitement among the people of the area around the proposed city is palpable. Digital images of the proposed city with swanky multi-storey buildings, boulevards, water parks, gardens, golf courses, bridges, waterfront and a metro rail have only added to the fervour. Prepared by a Singapore-based firm, the images in the masterplan promise that a new Singapore will spring up on the east coast of India.
“We have created history as we laid the foundation for our ‘Amaravati’, the People’s Capital on 22nd October 2015. We aspire to make Amaravati a true people’s capital, a destination of opportunities and a city of the future. Amaravati beckons us to rededicate ourselves in this mission. I invite you to join me in building our Praja Rajadhani “Amaravati” brick by brick ” appealed CM, Sri. Nara Chandrababu Naidu.
According to Government office, ‘Amaravati, the People’s capital of Andhra Pradesh, is envisioned to be a city of world-class standards with a vision of increasing Andhra Pradesh’s prominence in the world’. The Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) is leaving no stone unturned to provide cutting-edge infrastructure, comfortable livelihood and immense prosperity for the People of Amaravati. The Land Pooling scheme adopted by Amaravati is the largest and the most successful of its kind in India, and is a manifestation of the people’s desire for a world-class capital. The A bricks initiative is, but a natural step in the direction of People participation in building a true people’s Capital Amaravati.
The foundation and the history:
The foundation for the city was laid at Uddandarayunipalem on 22 October 2015. The Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi; the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, N. Chandrababu Naidu; the Chief Minister of Telangana, Kalvakuntla Chandrashekar Rao; the Japanese minister for economy trade and industry, Yosuke Takagi; and the Singaporean Minister for Trade and Industry, S. Iswaran laid the foundation for the city.
The present capital area has its own historical significance of having recorded its first ever legislation 2,200 years ago. As per the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act (2014), Hyderabad became the capital of the then newly formed state of Telangana, post bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. However, Hyderabad would remain as the joint capital of both states for a period of time not exceeding ten years. Hence, Amaravati is thus being built to serve as the capital of Andhra Pradesh.
Battling the odds:
In 2016 this grand scheme to create brand new “smart cities” along the lines of Singapore has encountered a few local difficulties in the southern state of Andhra Pradesh. Deep-rooted beliefs about the alignment of buildings, for example – which, according to the traditional Hindu system of Vaasthu Shastra, can bring about good or bad luck – forced the state government to revise its ambitious master plans for Amaravati, the new state capital being built from scratch there. In regard to this controversy Srikant Nagulapalli, commissioner of the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA) said, “when the first draft arrived, we realised that it would not work.”
Functioning of De facto state capital
As of October 2016, the majority of departments and officials of the Andhra Pradesh State Government are now functioning from interim facilities located in the Velagapudi area of Amaravati, with only a skeleton staff remaining behind in Hyderabad. The Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh, N Chandrababu Naidu began working from Velagapudi in April 2016. The Andhra Pradesh Legislature remained in Hyderabad until March 2017, when it relocated to newly constructed interim legislative buildings in Velagapudi.
A city of future
Developers view Amravati to be a city of the future. The Singapore consortium (Ascendas-Singbridge and SembCorp), master developer for the start-up area of AP’s upcoming capital Amaravati, is of this view. After the MoU was signed between the AP and Singapore governments, Neil McGregor, Group president and chief executive officer of SembCorp Industries, said, “We are very pleased to be given the opportunity to participate in the development of a brand-new capital city for AP. Miguel Ko, group chief executive officer of Ascendas-Singbridge, said, “This project will mark a new frontier in our ventures in India.”
The relation was built a long ago tracing back to the year 2015, when This week Singapore Minister for Trade and Industry, Mr S. Iswaran, representing Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong visited Amaravati. During this meeting the Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi called Amaravati a “benchmark” for new cities and a centre for economic growth. “Singapore is honoured and privileged to be able to play a part in Amaravati’s evolving story. Much work now lies ahead for the government and people of Andhra to build world-class infrastructure, and implement economic and social policies to attract investors from India and overseas in order to realise the vision of a strong and sustainable economy and city in Amaravati,” said Mr Iswaran, according to opengovasia.com report. During that time only Singapore companies had created three key plans for the new capital. They include lots of green spaces, high-rise commercial and residential buildings and low-rise government offices. Singapore’s involvement was formalised after the Republic and Andhra Pradesh signed a memorandum of understanding in December last year for Surbana Jurong to prepare master plans covering 16.9 sq km. Building infrastructure in the capital city project could cost about one trillion rupees (S$21.4 billion).
Surging to a smarter future
India is the third-largest economy in the world in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP) with a 6.4% share of the worldwide gross domestic product (GDP) on a PPP basis. The country also ranks second in terms of population, with more than 1.2 billion people, out of which, nearly one-third are urban dwellers. The urban proportion in the country has increased from 17.3% in 1951 to 31.2% in 2011. Over the last decade, Indian cities have witnessed a high rate of urbanisation with Delhi leading the race, registering a growth rate of 4.1%, followed by Mumbai and Kolkata with growth rates of 3.1 and 2% respectively. I Urbanisation is now a global megatrend and by 2050, around 64% of the developing world and 86% of the developed world is expected to be urbanised.
Rapid urbanisation is putting a strain on the infrastructure, environment and social fabric of cities. In addition, the existing physical, urban and social infrastructure is unable to meet and sustain city requirements and needs an overhaul. The new Indian government has taken cognisance of this accelerating expansion. Investments required to stabilise, augment as well as build a robust urban infrastructure are at the forefront of the government’s current agenda. The new Indian government is poised and determined to provide the right impetus and policy environment to take its smart city agenda forward. Initiatives to set up 100 smart cities across the country by 2022 are underway and being implemented at a fast pace.
Amravati too is a part of this movement. The urban population in the country has increased from 17.3 % in 1951 to 31.2% in 2011. Over the last decade Indian cities have witnessed a high rate of Urbanization with Delhi leading the race, registering a growth rate of 4.1%, followed by Mumbai and Kolkata with growth rates of 3.1 % and 2.1 % respectively. The new Indian government has taken cognizance of this accelerating expansion. Investments required to stabilize, augment as well as build a robust infrastructure are at the forefront of the government’s agenda.
Amaravati villages get their Navratna roles
– The administrative segment of Amaravati, AP’s new capital, will be located in the historical Rayapudi village on the banks of the river Krishna according to the development plan drawn up by the AP Capital Region Development Authority.
– The administrative city, one of the nine proposed navaratnas, would include the Raj Bhavan, Assembly and Secretariat among others.
– Officials have proposed Sakhamuru as the Knowledge City and Uddandarayunipalem, where the foundation stone was laid for Amaravati, as the Financial City.
– Abbarajupalem has been allocated the Sports City, Ainavolu education and Bethapudi has been earmarked for the Electronics City.
– The Health City will come up at Krishnayapalem and Undavalli will form the Tourist City. The High Court, offices of the Lokayukta and the tribunals, the Law University and law institutions would come in the justice city in Nelapadu.
– The seat of the administration at Rayapudi would have, apart from the Raj Bhavan, Assembly and Secretariat, the commissionerates, offices of the Central and state governments including public enterprises, government quarters and government guesthouses among others.
– The Electronics City at Bethapudi would house manufacturers of audio/video appliances, solar equipment, semiconductors, sensors, home appliances, auxiliary and other electronic units.
Division of planning of the city:
These cities will be in conformity with the internationally acclaimed fused grid model of development where a huge chunk of the population will ‘walk to work’ and also have most of their daily needs available within walking distance.
– A total of 6,577 acres has been set aside within the cities for future purposes.
– The Government City is the most important one that will have the Legislative Assembly and Council, Secretariat buildings and head offices of various government departments.
– Land for residential buildings (covering 833 acres), for entertainment and social requirements (567 acres) and for commercial establishments (237 acres) have been earmarked within this city.
– The Tourism City will have offices related to the hospitality sector, star hotels and other amenities which will be of tourist attraction.
– The Knowledge City will have campuses of universities and educational institutions of global repute.
– The river-front development is a part of this city. The Finance City will be like a ‘central business district’ where the offices of the Finance Department of GoAP and private financial institutions will be located.
– Sports stadia and other facilities will come up in the Sports City.
– The A.P. High Court will be established in the Justice City in addition to other courts and offices of various judicial departments.
– The residential quarters of the Chief Justice of A.P. will be one of the prominent structures that will be built in this city.
A world-class city:
Amaravati holds out the promise of being a city like no other in India. Among the innovative features on the drawing board are navigation canals around the city and connecting an island in the river Krishna. These have been embedded into the design of the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, a state that was left with no capital after Telangana inherited Hyderabad three years ago amid bitter rivalry.
Amaravati, being built on a 217 sq km open field in Guntur district, is being designed to have 51% of green spaces and 10% of water bodies, with a plan to house some of the most iconic buildings there. The city is being modelled on Singapore, with the masterplan being prepared by two Singapore government-appointed consultants. Other international consultants and architects will then be roped in to give it an international flavour.
On the ground, what is now seen in Amaravati is the interim secretariat building, housing the temporary assembly, in a 49 acre area, with major arterial roads being constructed all around. But these are early days. According to the timeline of the ` 58,000 crore project, the city will be populated and functional only by the end of its second phase, in 2024, when most of the buildings, luxury hotels, universities and the central business district will be operational. The third and final phase is to be completed by 2029.
Infra material will flow via Krishna to build future city of Amaravati:
– Amaravati has been designed as a sustainable capital of Andhra Pradesh with 100% treatment and recycling of both solid and liquid waste and vacuum-cleaning of crowded areas. It is also set to become the first urban area which will get most of the construction material through waterway to build the 21.23sq km state capital.
– Many of the benchmarks set for the development for the future city are at par with Sweden, Japan, Taiwan and UAE. Moreover, the city will have infrastructure to floodproof it for 100 years.
– The capital being developed as a greenfield city will also be built using construction material that will be transported through a waterway .The state has estimated investment of about ` 50,000 crore for developing infrast ructure and other facilities. The 70km of Krishna river is being dredged for movement of river ships in the next one year from the construction material hub.
– This will be first such waterway , which be used for development of a city. Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) has already started dredging on the 80-km stretch between Muktyala to Vijayawada of Krishna river. Muktyar has a major cement plant and it’s also known as the hub for construction material. “The waterway will be enough to transport cement and other construction material for the new capital city. The project includes construction of three permanent terminals and to facilitate movement of passengers and cargo, we will have four floating jetties,” said an IWAI official. In order to implement the project the authority has moved the proposal for a special purpose vehicle (SPV) in which the Andhra Pradesh government will be a partner.
– Besides residential and government buildings, Amaravati will have 12 institutions spread over 995 acres and will see ` 17,808 crore investment. There will be educational institutions, health centres and Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanam besides other government establishments. By 2050, the city expects to get 3.5 million population. Some of the other features include 100% recycling of solid and liquid waste, vacuum system for high density areas and using technology to minimise need for land fill areas.
– IWAI officials said transport cost will depend on total quantity of cargo to be shipped through the waterway.
The city of Amravati is emblem of the democratic body of India. It is the celebration of the local cultural value of Andhra Pradesh. On the banks of river Krishna, governmental quarters is at the heart of the city. Designed in a an unique architectural way. Arranged in 4 km long ceremonial axis the masterplan is divided into a series of 9 square grids.
Focus on Renewable Energy and Waste Management:
Laying emphasis on sustainability, renewable energy too occupies a place in AP’s policy agenda. The government has brought out Solar Power Policy – 2015, giving a fillip to massive production of solar power in the state. Recently, the Ministry for New and Renewable Energy has sanctioned a 1,500-MW ultra mega solar power park for development in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh. Two other parks of 1,000 MW each are being executed by NTPC at Anantapur and Kurnool districts, respectively.
Masayoshi Son, founder and CEO of Japan’s SoftBank Corp has evinced interest in making Andhra Pradesh a model state for the country in solar plus wind hybrid projects in the country. “These projects will not only boost the economy but also provide employment to people,” Mr. Son said to Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, during his visit to Hyderabad in June this year. As an administrator with a holistic focus, Mr. Naidu has understood the need to focus on waste management to make the state smart, clean and green. In this direction, the Singapore Cooperation Enterprise (SCE) and the Swachh Andhra Corporation (SAC) have signed an agreement to jointly develop a framework for an integrated solid waste management master plan for Andhra Pradesh.
The master plan of Amravati respects the sense of local identity and enhances appreciation for local heritage. It protects the existing religious and heritage sites and connects them to the network of MRT / BRT and roads to form tourism circuits. Combining all these factors, the dream of making Amaravati the best capital in India looks plausible if the citizens of AP support the construction of a capital and the government sticks to its plans without getting disillusioned in the process.
Although Hyderabad will be the joint capital of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh until 2024, under the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, passed by Parliament, chief minister N. Chandrababu Naidu is in a hurry. He wants to be in the new capital by the time the state goes for Assembly polls in 2019. By the end of 2018, the government and the Singapore consortium hope to build most of what is called the Seed Capital Area (SCA) spread over 16.9 sqkm, with a resident population of around 3 lakh. The state estimates that investments of around US $3 billion will be needed in the first phase.
By 2050, however, there will be 140 lakh people in the capital region comprising an area of about 8,350 sqkm and carved out of the districts of Krishna and Guntur on either side of the river Krishna ( see map), covering the cities of Vijayawada, Guntur, Tenali and Mangalagiri (VGTM). Amaravati, the capital, alone will have 40 lakh residents. According to the state government, it chose the core area for the capital keeping in mind its central location and minimum effect on multi-cropped agricultural land. The Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA), the state body responsible for executing the plans on Amaravati, has already acquired 33,000 acres through a land pooling scheme. The landholders of the area have been promised residential and commercial plots in the capital region according to the land they donate. They will also be given an annuity of ` 30,000-50,000 an acre, depending on the quality of land acquired, with an increase of 10 per cent each year for 10 years.
As per government there is a list of Indian and multinational companies and educational institutions that have shown interest in buying land. CRDA officials say they have been busy taking delegations from embassies, foreign consultants, investors and others on tours of the proposed city. Amaravati is said to have been a representation of amalgamation of modern and a historical city. Will it be a successful modern capital? The 2019 election result, perhaps, holds the key.
References and Images:
amaravati.gov.in, deccanchronicle, opengovasia., pwc, Theguardian.com, Amaravati – People’s Capital of Andhra Pradesh youtube video, timesofindia, economictimes, thehindu, avenue.in, telegraphindia, sify.com