Dream capital Amaravati turns into a nightmare for farmers

G Naga Sridhar Amaravati | Updated on August 21, 2019 Published on August 21, 2019

Amaravati, the last capital of the ancient Satavahana empire, has a jinxed history . The Satavahans, who ruled the Deccan for 450 years, declined shortly after making it their new capital   -  V RAJU

Real estate prices in the region crash 50% as AP govt hints at shifting capital

Subba Reddy, a farmer from Penumaka in the new capital zone of Andhra Pradesh, is a worried man. Reason: The YSR Congress government, which took over recently, has been dropping frequent hints about shifting the State’s capital to a new location.

“It will be disastrous for all of us. How can they even think of changing the location when we gave our land?” questioned Reddy, adding that while the government could change hands, whichever party is in power should honour commitments given to farmers.

The previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government, led by N Chandrababu Naidu, had commenced work on the capital after acquiring 33,000 acres from farmers in 30 villages in the Mangalagiri-Guntur region, who had pooled their land.

Commitments made

As part of the agreement between the two sides, once the capital is developed, the State government is supposed to hand over plots to the farmers who surrendered their lands.

Now, there are doubts if this will happen at all. “Though the process has commenced, it has been halted since May,” said JR Reddy from Tullur village.

On Tuesday, State Minister Botsa Satyanarayana kicked off a fresh row when he said that as Amaravati was in a flood zone, construction of a capital would result in an “additional burden” on the exchequer and “the government would announce its decision on the new capital soon”. Earlier, Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy had also announced a probe into ‘land scams’ in the capital region.

Real estate prices, which sky-rocketed from ₹6 lakh per acre to ₹3 crore in some villages, including Tullur, are now witnessing a crash.

According to P Reddy, a builder, there has been a 40-50 per cent reduction in real estate prices in the last four months. “The rate of reduction in land prices varies from village to village, depending on the present state of construction activity,’’ he said. In many villages, the price of a square yard of land fell from ₹25,000 to ₹15,000.

Some plan to take legal recourse if any of the commitments made in the land pooling agreement were not honoured by the government. Some think the talk about a shift is purely political gamesmanship. “The YSR Congress Party has mentioned in its election manifesto that capital will not be shifted. They can’t do it,’’ said Venkayya Chowdhury, a farmer from Velagapudi village.

Jinxed choice?

Amaravati, the last capital of the ancient Satavahana empire, has a jinxed history. The Satavahans, who ruled the Deccan for 450 years, declined shortly after making it their new capital.

Buddhism, which had a base in the ancient Andhra region, also disappeared fast. Chinese traveller Hieun Tsang, who visited Amaravati in the first half of the 7th century AD, talks of its ‘declining impact’.

It was only in 2014 that Amaravati came back into the limelight again after it was named Andhra Pradesh’s new capital. Five years later, N Chadrababu Naidu, who made it the capital, lost power.

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Published on August 21, 2019
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