VIJAYAWADA: With the Centre keen on clearing the AP bifurcation bill in Parliament, the focus is slowly shifting towards the location of the new capital of the residuary Andhra Pradesh.
The bifurcation bill is proposed to grant clearances with regard to de-notification of forest land to an extent of 1.25 lakh acres for the location of the capital.
Although, the Centre did not specify the region or location of the capital as it has decided to appoint an expert committee to look into the issue, the Centre's willingness to de-notify vast forest land has itself triggered speculation in the Seemandhra region. Sources said that issue of denotifying forest land for capital was originally proposed by the state government.
The chief secretary reportedly wrote a letter to the Centre suggesting that acquisition of forest land by denotifying reserve forest area was the only economical and trouble-free way to get the land needed for location of the new capital. The state government estimated that nearly 1-1.5 lakh acres of land would be required for developing the new capital township and acquisition of such a vast land in plain areas particularly close to any city would not be possible due to opposition from land losers.
With government land not available in such a vast area, it has to acquire it from the private people. In fact, acquisition of private land in bits and pieces would not only be difficult but also a laborious process, the report felt. It also said that it was neither feasible nor possible to develop a planned and designed township for capital region in any of the existing towns.
"Capital city does not mean the location of just the assembly building, secretariat and a few bungalows for the CM and ministers. It requires a lot of infrastructure and massive structures. It is not possible to build a planned township close to the developed cities due to various constraints," observed Abdul Hakeem, an architect involved in construction of various government buildings in UAE.
Keeping all these things in view, the state government reportedly suggested taking over of forest land either in plain area or close to the thick forest and develop the new capital region as that was the best available option.Sources said the state government proposed three locations for development of the capital township.
According to sources, the Nallamala forest area between Vinukonda-Markapuram, Macherla in Guntur district and Kakinada area in East Godavari district were three locations suggested by the state government.
The state government was believed to have said that water from Srisailam project and Gundlakamma river, a railway line between Vijayawada-Bangalore and national highway to Bangalore were an advantage to Markapuram area. In addition, this area would be close to Rayalaseema and coastal districts. Water from Nagarjunasagar and Pulichintala project, national highway between Hyderabad-Guntur and railway line connecting all major stations were said to be the advantages for the Macherla region.
Similarly, the forest area close to Kakinada too has basic infrastructure like water from Godavari, railway line and national highways between Howrah-Chennai. However, none of the three locations are close to any airport. The state government reportedly batted for development of a small airport within the capital city and having an international airport within a 100-150 km distance.
Former MP Yalamanchili Sivaji, however, fumed over such a proposal. He demanded that the capital should be located between Vijayawada-Guntur by utilizing the existing facilities.
He said developing the capital far away in Nallamala forest would spell doom for the new state as it involves huge cost and cause inconvenience to people of all the three regions. He said the capital should always be easily accessible to the common people and not just VIPs.