CHAS­ING A CAP­I­TAL DREAM

CHAN­DRABABU NAIDU AIMS TO MAKE PRO­POSED NEW CAP­I­TAL AMAR­A­VATI A MOD­ERN, COM­PELLING DES­TI­NA­TION FOR GLOBAL IN­VEST­MENTS AND TAL­ENT

India Today - - ANDHRA PRADESH | AMARAVITI - By Amar­nath K. Menon

My goal in this life­time is to build up Amar­a­vati as one of the world’s best cities. Ours will be a happy city, and one of the most liv­able,” de­clared Andhra Pradesh chief min­is­ter N. Chan­drababu Naidu, on July 15, while lay­ing the foun­da­tion stone for SRM Univer­sity, the first pri­vate var­sity to com­mis­sion a cam­pus in the up­com­ing cap­i­tal city. US firm Perkins & Will, who have done projects for sev­eral renowned US univer­si­ties, are the master ar­chi­tects, while San­deep Ti­wari, a Cor­nell Univer­sity ex-dean, will be the vice-chan­cel­lor.

“Lak­shmi (the god­dess of wealth) will come where there is Saraswati (the god­dess of ed­u­ca­tion),” added ex-Union min­is­ter and vice-pres­i­den­tial can­di­date M. Venka­iah Naidu. The cam­pus, a Rs 3,024 crore project, is be­ing en­vi­sioned as a pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ship model and will open in Neerukonda. Others, in­clud­ing VIT Univer­sity, Amrita Univer­sity and the Indo-UK

In­sti­tute of Health Care are to follow as vi­tal in­sti­tu­tions in the ed­u­ca­tion hub of the fledg­ling cap­i­tal.

“Ed­u­ca­tion, health and in­dus­try are our pri­mary tar­gets for the new Amar­a­vati,” says CM Naidu. The im­per­a­tive is clear. The state’s re­source crunch is be­cause it does not have a cap­i­tal like Hyderabad in con­tigu­ous Te­lan­gana. “Rev­enue re­sources will not im­prove with­out large cities. This is why we are de­vel­op­ing nine sec­tors or theme cities, in­clud­ing ones for ad­min­is­tra­tion, fi­nance, elec­tron­ics, health, sports, within Amar­a­vati,” says Naidu.

The Andhra Pradesh Cap­i­tal Re­gion De­vel­op­ment Au­thor­ity (APCRDA) has been con­sti­tuted for the planned de­vel­op­ment of the cap­i­tal re­gion. The state has brought on board con­sul­tants from the UK, US, Ja­pan, the Nether­lands, Sin­ga­pore and other coun­tries who will help make iconic cap­i­tal city ar­chi­tec­ture and tap en­ergy- and cost-ef­fi­cient new tech­nolo­gies to meet ur­ban chal­lenges. A Sin­ga­pore con­sor­tium, Sur­bana-Jurong, has pre­pared the over­all master plan. The Cen­tre for Liv­able Cities, Sin­ga­pore, is to help APCRDA de­velop the Amar­a­vati Plan­ning and De­sign Re­search In­sti­tute, which will make in­no­va­tion “an ev­ery­day habit” and help cre­ate an ac­tive en­vi­ron­ment for cit­i­zens and start-ups to con­trib­ute to city plan­ning through open data sys­tems.

Naidu has ap­proved plans by the UK-based Foster & Part­ners for a Bud­dhist stupa-shaped high court (in recog­ni­tion of Amar­a­vati’s Bud­dhist roots), and a di­a­mond­shaped leg­isla­tive as­sem­bly com­plex, which will house the state sec­re­tar­iat too. Con­struc­tion of the as­sem­bly is to be­gin on Septem­ber 30, on Dussehra and ex­actly three years af­ter Prime Min­is­ter Naren­dra Modi laid the foun­da­tion stone dur­ing the fes­ti­val in 2014. Work on the court com­plex is sched­uled to start on Oc­to­ber 30 and the state sec­re­tar­iat, in two blocks of four and six floors, in Novem­ber. The chief min­is­ter is ea­ger that the iconic struc­tures rise, even if they are not fully ready, by March 2019, be­fore the next as­sem­bly polls.

“There will be a 500-me­tre-tall iconic tower in the heart of the ad­min­is­tra­tive city from where the en­tire cap­i­tal can be viewed,” says min­is­ter for mu­nic­i­pal ad­min­is­tra­tion and ur­ban de­vel­op­ment, Dr P. Narayana. Gi­gan­tic stat­ues of Dr B.R. Ambed­kar and N.T. Rama Rao, the rul­ing TDP’s founder and leg­endary ac­tor, are also to be in­stalled in Amar­a­vati. Sig­nif­i­cantly, to en­rich their de­signs with el­e­ments of the cul­ture, his­tory and tra­di­tions of Andhra Pradesh, the ar­chi­tects have turned to Tel­ugu fim di­rec­tor S.S. Ra­jamouli (of Baahubali fame).

Naidu’s hope is to de­velop Amar­a­vati as the most hab­it­able and vi­brant ur­ban sprawl, dot­ted with green and blue ar­eas, where there would be no over­head elec­tric wires or mo­bile tow­ers and min­i­mal pol­lu­tion. “Hap­pi­ness is the most dom­i­nant con­cept of the city, with green­ery and wa­ter bod­ies pro­nounced on about 30 per cent of the 217 sq. km green­field cap­i­tal,” says Ajay Jain, prin­ci­pal sec­re­tary, en­ergy, in­fra­struc­ture, in­vest­ment and APCRDA. “We are plan­ning eco-friendly pub­lic trans­port be­sides 100 per cent wi-fi and af­ford­able hous­ing.”

The city’s de­sign is such that pub­lic trans­port will be avail­able within 2 km from any point. Spread-out wa­ter bod­ies, en­ergy-ef­fi­cient build­ings, re­new­able en­ergy sources and street-cool­ing con­cepts to en­sure nat­u­ral cool­ing, will keep tem­per­a­tures in the cap­i­tal at pleas­ant lev­els. Makki & As­so­ciates, a lead­ing Ja­panese ar­chi­tec­ture firm, is de­sign­ing some of the iconic build­ings and Ar­cadis, the Nether­lands-based en­gi­neer­ing con­sul­tancy,

Naidu is ea­ger that the Bud­dhist stupa-shaped HC com­plex and the di­a­mond-shaped as­sem­bly com­plex rise by March 2019, be­fore the next as­sem­bly polls

is de­sign­ing the blue in­fra­struc­ture fea­tur­ing wa­ter bod­ies, reser­voirs, ponds and lakes, the Kr­ishna river drainage and canals. For the green plan, H.C. Pa­tel, which de­vel­oped the Sabar­mati river front in as­so­ci­a­tion with GIIC of China, has been roped in.

Farm­ers and others have of­fered 32,500 acres un­der an in­no­va­tive land pool­ing sys­tem. About 60,000 de­vel­oped plots with a col­lec­tive mar­ket value of Rs 4 lakh crore have been re­turned to them. The state is to de­velop roads, drainage and pro­vide in­fra­struc­ture for drink­ing wa­ter and elec­tric­ity free of cost. For their liveli­hood, land own­ers will get Rs 30,000 an acre a year as an­nu­ity for 10 years. This is also be­ing ex­tended to farm hands and the poor in the 29 vil­lages that form part of 21st cen­tury Amar­a­vati. “We are giv­ing the youth and women skill de­vel­op­ment train­ing to help them get jobs in the ser­vice and man­u­fac­tur­ing sec­tors. They are the real he­roes. That’s why we are calling Amar­a­vati the Peo­ple’s Cap­i­tal. The peo­ple are the own­ers as they hold 90 per cent of the de­vel­oped prop­erty while 10 per cent vests with the gov­ern­ment,” ex­plains Naidu.

There are wor­ries too. The CM ac­cuses the Op­po­si­tion of pro­vok­ing farm­ers and get­ting them to file pe­ti­tions, cre­at­ing hur­dles in the de­vel­op­ment process. “No one can ob­struct the con­struc­tion of the new peo­ple’s cap­i­tal,” Naidu as­serts. His ap­peal to the peo­ple ‘to do­nate a brick in a par­tic­i­pa­tory ap­proach’ has had lit­tle im­pact. As of July 24, the ini­tia­tive where any­one can do­nate Rs 10 to­wards a brick to build Amar­a­vati has a to­tal of just 226,992 donors giv­ing 5,663,455 bricks.

State em­ploy­ees are equally unim­pressed and view the ‘cap­i­tal build­ing’ as a decade or more long ex­er­cise, go­ing by the ex­pe­ri­ence of new cap­i­tals like Raipur and Ranchi that came up af­ter the state re­or­gan­i­sa­tion in 2000. The alarm­ing level of ab­sen­teeism (43 per cent in May) in the state sec­re­tar­iat at the in­terim gov­ern­ment com­plex in Amar­a­vati sug­gests that all is not well. Many of the staff are still Hyderabad-based, shut­tling for the five-day work week, with at­ten­dance thin­ning on Mon­day morn­ings and Friday evenings. Naidu, ever the tech man, is now in­tro­duc­ing a bio­met­ric sys­tem to en­force full at­ten­dance.

To quicken the pace of con­struc­tion, the state en­tered into an MoU with the Sin­ga­pore gov­ern­ment in May, to de­velop the master plan and over­see im­ple­men­ta­tion. A joint steer­ing com­mit­tee co-chaired by Naidu and Sin­ga­pore trade and in­dus­try min­is­ter S. Iswaran has been set up for co­or­di­na­tion. As­cen­das-Sing­bridge, a lead­ing Sin­ga­pore­based sus­tain­able ur­ban space so­lu­tions provider, is bet­ting big on the de­vel­op­ment of Amar­a­vati. “Amar­a­vati will be a game changer in In­dia. A self-sus­tain­ing city pro­vid­ing mul­ti­ple em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties while en­sur­ing health, wealth and hap­pi­ness,” says the com­pany’s CEO (In­dia oper­a­tions and pri­vate funds) San­jay Dutt. They are to de­velop the start-up area of the cap­i­tal in the 20 sq. km Seed De­vel­op­ment Area of Amar­a­vati, along the River Kr­ishna wa­ter­front. Spread over 684 hectares, the area will be de­vel­oped in phases, over 15 to 20 years.

Anand Mahin­dra is al­ready plan­ning to de­velop an in­dus­trial city here. The state has al­lot­ted 996 acres so far to set up ed­u­ca­tional, health and other en­ti­ties, at a cost of Rs 17,808 crore and will give more to new in­vestors. It is ul­ti­mately to be a Rs 58,000 crore project in which the city will be fully func­tional by the end of the sec­ond phase in 2024 when most build­ings, ho­tels, univer­si­ties and the cen­tral busi­ness district will be op­er­a­tional. The third and fi­nal phase is sched­uled to be com­pleted by 2029.

“To­day, nine coun­tries and many in­ter­na­tional agen­cies are in­volved in the de­vel­op­ment of Amar­a­vati. By 2018, we pro­pose to spend Rs 25,000 crore on trunk in­fra­struc­ture and other fa­cil­i­ties with funds from the World Bank, HUDCO and the Ja­panese In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion Agency. I am con­fi­dent that by 2019 we will com­plete the first phase of de­vel­op­ing Amar­a­vati,” says Naidu. The man who made Hyderabad an IT cap­i­tal is now gen­er­at­ing the same con­fi­dence about Amar­a­vati. In his own words, “this is the be­gin­ning of world-class things to come”.

GRAND DE­SIGNS Chief min­is­ter N. Chan­drababu Naidu re­views the plan for Amar­a­vati

CAM­PUS CALLING The up­com­ing SRM Univer­sity in Amar­a­vati

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