Kingshuk Nag reviews development of Andhra’s new capital – Amravati.
Andhra CM wants to create a capital that lasts forever. But as of now, Amaravati is taking forever.
“We are worse than refugees, we have to build our lives all over again,” says Chandrababu Naidu, two years after Telangana was carved out of Andhra Pradesh on June 2, 2014. Naidu is sitting in his camp office in Vijayawada, the curtains of his rooms printed with large images of Gautam Buddha. “My first task is to establish a capital for Andhra Pradesh and I want to create a city that will be remembered by people for centuries,” he says. But Naidu admits that he has no money and the financial position of Andhra Pradesh is pretty bad. The Government of India is really not open-fisted, so Naidu is looking for foreign participation in building “the pioneer smart city of India”.
But right now Naidu is faced with another problem. Only a few officers have shifted with him to Vijayawada. Most officers stay in Hyderabad and shuttle to and fro. The entire staff of the government departments is in Hyderabad, although the ministers have shifted. “I understand that officers and staff want to stay in Hyderabad. But a beginning has to be made because, after all, we have to shift,” says Naidu.The CM has stipulated that the staff must shift by June 27. But clearly that is not possible.
He discusses why Amravati has been selected? Given its historical linkages with Buddhism and with many Japanese investors, it was a natural choice.
In Pali, Amaravati means abode of the deathless, meaning that nirvana can be attained here. Now a tiny town, it was a major Buddhist centre in third and second century BC. Naidu says that Buddhism was exported to southeast Asia from here. The proposed capital is 25km away from the historical Amaravati -but Naidu has chosen the name because he wants his capital to last forever. Moreover, he wants to use the name of the Buddha to establish an immediate connect with Japan, Korea and Singapore -countries that have surplus investible resources.
From the point of view of vaastu, Naidu wanted a riverfront capital. The historical Amaravati is also on the banks of the river Krishna; vaastu also projects that a capital that has water on the northeast corner is auspicious. U R Palem village -the site of the legislature, secretariat and high court -has the river flowing in the northeast.
History of cities remains as fascinating as ever.