Amar­a­vati: Some lessons from Sin­ga­pore

Governance Now - - INTERVIEW - shivani@gov­er­nan­

Farm­ers from vil­lages of Amar­a­vati are vis­it­ing Sin­ga­pore for an on-the-ground study of de­vel­op­men­tal pro­grammes there. They have an op­por­tu­nity to see how land bought from them by the Andhra Pradesh gov­ern­ment will be used for the de­vel­op­ment of the up­com­ing state cap­i­tal, Amar­a­vati, and also how they can in­vest the wealth they have ac­quired af­ter part­ing with their land. Farm­ers who handed over their land for the up­com­ing planned city got 27 per­cent of their land back. And now these farm­ers are ex­plor­ing the op­por­tu­ni­ties of how best they can de­velop their plot of land in their vil­lage in Amar­a­vati based on what they saw and learnt in Sin­ga­pore. Their for­eign visit is fa­cil­i­tated by the Andhra Pradesh cap­i­tal re­gion de­vel­op­ment au­thor­ity (CRDA), which is build­ing the new city. Around 26,000 farm­ers gave up around 33,000 acres of land for de­vel­op­ment of state’s new cap­i­tal Amar­a­vati along the Kr­ishna river.

Shivani Chaturvedi spoke with the man in charge of the cap­i­tal city project, CRDA chair­man Sreed­har Cherukuri, on phone.

The ini­tia­tive to take farm­ers to abroad was quite un­usual. Why did you choose Sin­ga­pore?

sin­ga­pore is the part­ner in the de­vel­op­ment of Amar­a­vati. sin­ga­pore has con­trib­uted from the day one of the city plan­ning. We have en­tered into an Mou with sin­ga­pore gov­ern­ment, and we feel sin­ga­pore is the right model to adapt. it is con­sid­ered one of the most live­able cities in the world and has cre­ated its own mark in the world econ­omy. Also, its sim­i­lar­ity to the weather con­di­tions of Amar­a­vati made us chose sin­ga­pore for farm­ers visit.

Can you tell us more about the ini­tia­tive?

it is an ex­po­sure visit. The AP gov­ern­ment has done land pro­cure­ment un­der a land pooling scheme to build the cap­i­tal city Amar­a­vati. in this al­most 24,000 farm­ers are part­ners of de­vel­op­ment of cap­i­tal re­gion, mean­ing these many farm­ers parted with their land for con­struc­tion of Amar­a­vati.

so we thought as we con­struct the city, farm­ers should also have ex­po­sure to best prac­tices that are hap­pen­ing around the world. For this we thought sin­ga­pore would be the best place to see.

Two batches of 34 farm­ers each went for four days. The first batch left al­most two months ago and the sec­ond on de­cem­ber 2. There will be a third batch, leav­ing around de­cem­ber 24 and one last batch in Jan­uary. A to­tal of 123 farm­ers are part of the trip.

As part of the ex­po­sure visit the farm­ers are vis­it­ing var­i­ous places in sin­ga­pore where de­vel­op­ment is tak­ing place. For ex­am­ple, the sin­ga­pore gov­ern­ment’s cen­tre for Live­able cities, which has show­cased how a small fish­ing vil­lage has de­vel­oped in the last 50 years and rose to a global city. There, the farm­ers got to know about the en­tire de­vel­op­ment process. They got the op­por­tu­nity to in­ter­act with lo­cal plan­ners. They also saw var­i­ous other de­vel­op­ments like hous­ing projects, com­mer­cial projects, how they have de­vel­oped their green spa­ces, how the road sys­tem is built, how they built their solid waste man­age­ment sys­tem. The farm­ers were also taken to univer­sal stu­dios, and they were told about the tourism in­dus­try’s im­por­tance in the sin­ga­pore econ­omy, and how sin­ga­pore has nur­tured the sec­tor over a pe­riod of time.

Meet­ings of farm­ers with rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the sin­ga­pore gov­ern­ment were also ar­ranged.

Lan­guage is not a bar­rier for the farm­ers dur­ing the visit. One of­fi­cer

ac­com­pa­nies them. Also, there are a lot of Tel­ugu-speak­ing peo­ple in sin­ga­pore, in­clud­ing some em­ploy­ees of the sin­ga­pore gov­ern­ment.

What is the idea be­hind the ini­tia­tive?

As part of the de­vel­op­ment part­ner­ship with the state gov­ern­ment, farm­ers who parted with their land for de­vel­op­ment of Amar­a­vati got 27 per­cent of it back. The farm­ers are plan­ning to de­velop this land. There are around 12,000 acres of land with the farm­ers, and the tour to sin­ga­pore aims to give them an op­por­tu­nity to de­velop their land, and also help them un­der­stand how the cities are planned and how cities get the right in­fra­struc­ture. The tour is a part of the Farm­ers First ini­tia­tive of the state gov­ern­ment.

Two batches have al­ready com­pleted their trip. What is their feed­back, are they think­ing of de­vel­op­ing their land based on what they have seen?

Farm­ers are ex­plor­ing a lot of op­por­tu­ni­ties. once the en­tire pro­gramme is over the sin­ga­pore gov­ern­ment is fa­cil­i­tat­ing a visit of var­i­ous de­vel­op­ers to Amar­a­vati. These de­vel­op­ers would help farm­ers de­velop their plot of land.

Will the state gov­ern­ment of­fer fur­ther help to the farm­ers?

Yes. We ini­ti­ated a project called Farm­ers First. Through this we are build­ing a farm­ers sup­port sys­tem wherein we are en­gag­ing best peo­ple from var­i­ous fields such as real es­tate con­sul­tants, de­vel­op­ers con­sul­tants and fi­nan­cial con­sul­tants. These peo­ple would pro­vide sup­port to the farm­ers. if they want to de­velop their land this sup­port sys­tem would fa­cil­i­tate the farm­ers in get­ting the right peo­ple, bring­ing in­sti­tu­tional fi­nance to them, also pro­vid­ing them mar­ket un­der­stand­ing.

Has any other state ap­proached AP to repli­cate this ini­tia­tive?

The Ya­muna ex­press­way au­thor­ity ap­proached us. even Ma­ha­rash­tra, gu­jarat, odisha and Jhark­hand are study­ing our model.

Around 26,000 farm­ers have given their land. How did you se­lect 123 farm­ers for the Sin­ga­pore trip?

once we had de­cided on the pro­gramme we had placed an open ad­ver­tise­ment, invit­ing all farm­ers to ap­ply. ini­tially we thought we would be send­ing 100 peo­ple but we got the ap­pli­ca­tions from 123. so we thought as they are show­ing in­ter­est we should send all of them.

What is the cost borne by the state gov­ern­ment?

AP in part­ner­ship with the sin­ga­pore gov­ern­ment has spent ₹40 lakh on farm­ers’ tour plan, ho­tel stay and food in sin­ga­pore. Farm­ers are pay­ing for the ticket as they have be­come rich af­ter re­ceiv­ing com­pen­sa­tion for their land!

“The Ya­muna ex­press­way au­thor­ity ap­proached us. Even Ma­ha­rash­tra, Gu­jarat, Odisha and Jhark­hand are study­ing our model.”

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