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Will this town be the new Seemandhra capital?

May 02, 2014 15:43 IST

A committee has been set up to finalise the capital for the region, which will consult the Union government and both the new state governments. Vicky Nanjappa reports

The Union government on Friday set up a committee to finalise a new capital for Andhra Pradesh’s Seemandhra region, which is not a part of the new state of Telangana. The committee after deliberations with the Union government and both the new state governments will submit a report on August 31.

According to the legislation passed by the Parliament, Hyderabad will be the joint capital of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema, comprising 13 districts, will have to set up a new capital after Hyderabad, the current capital of Andhra Pradesh, will be transferred to Telangana.

But the people of Seemandhra are clearly not happy. They want a new capital for the region within the next year, a demand they have been putting forth before every candidate who seeks their votes.     

The contenders at the moment are Donakonda, Vijayawada, Vishakapatanam and Tirupati. While names of these cities have been doing the rounds for months now, the committee could spring a surprise and pick a relatively small town Mangalagiri, situated between Vijayawada and Guntur.

Mangalagiri’s name cropped up after a secret proposal was sent to the ministry of forests and environment seeking to declassify the land in the forest area near the town. 

However, if the government decides on making Mangalagiri the capital, it will need adequate land for a state secretariat, state assembly and council, Raj Bhavan, a high court, government offices, guest houses, a good airport, proper bus and train services, educational institutions and other infrastructure facilities.

This could turn out to be an expensive affair, as the town is not as developed as Vishakaptanam, Tirupati or Vijayawada.

Converting these cities into a new capital would only mean less expenditure since the infrastructure does not need to be set up from scratch but needs an upgrade.

The capital for Seemandhra could lead to further rift among political parties in the region. There is tension between the leaders of Rayalaseema and coastal Andhra to ensure that the capital falls in their region.

The YSR Congress party and the Telugu Desam Party, which have assured of a world-class capital, want to ensure that the region is not divided on this issue. “People have to just come to terms with the bifurcation and should not avoid any further divide,” a YSR Congress leader pointed out. 

The people of Seemandhra demand a centrally located capital. However, that is not a logic the committee is likely to consider. New Delhi is the best example of a capital that is not centrally located.

The ‘capital’ issue has been a major election plank this season. The Congress in particular has been most vocal. Leaders from coastal Andhra are rooting for Vishakapatanam, while those from Rayalaseema suggest that Kurnool should be named the new capital. 

Kurnool was the capital of Andhra for three years from October 1 1953 to October 31 1956.

Meanwhile, the TDP and the YSR Congress want Vijayawada as the capital. It’s a more feasible option in terms of location and distance. It is also close to Bangalore and Chennai and this would help in ensuring quick development, they feel.

Seemandhra goes to polls on May 7. The voters say that politicians may bicker over the new capital, but “we need it to be convenient and more importantly better than Hyderabad”. The pain of losing Telangana and Hyderabad is evident among the people of Seemandhra, who have contributed towards making the latter a world- class city.

Image: Mangalagiri is situated between Vijayawada and Guntur

Vicky Nanjappa