Why did the Andhra Pradesh government remove three capital laws?

Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy had vowed to establish three capitals: a legislative capital in Amaravati, an executive capital in Visakhapatnam, and a judicial capital in Kurnool, as part of an earlier proposal.
ys jagan mohan reddy

On Monday, the Andhra Pradesh Assembly unanimously passed a bill repealing two laws passed last year as part of the YSRCP government's contentious decision to establish three separate state capitals rather than continuing with the previous TDP regime's intention to develop Amaravati.

One of these was the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020, which was passed in January 2020 to allow the state to have three capitals. Minister for Finance, Planning, and Legislative Affairs Bugganna Rajendranath Reddy introduced the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Repeal Bill, 2021, which was unanimously passed by voice vote.

So, what was the repealed Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020?

After assuming power in 2019, the YSR Congress Party chose to revoke the previous government's decision to build an ambitious world-class capital city in Amaravati, which is located between Vijayawada and Guntur. The TDP government had purchased 33,000 acres of agricultural property from 29 villages through a land-pooling system and promised to restore developed plots in exchange, in addition to monetary compensation.

TDP created an interim government complex, a temporary High Court building, a permanent Legislative complex, and even homes and flats for lawmakers, judges, and officers while relocating the seat of power from Hyderabad to Amaravati.

However, the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led administration chose to abandon the project in favor of decentralization. It approved the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020, in 2020, repealing the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority Act, 2020. The Legislative capital would be Amaravati, the Executive capital would be Visakhapatnam, and the Judicial capital would be Kurnool.

Why was the Three Capitals Act repealed by the government?

The Andhra Pradesh High Court has received over a hundred petitions opposing the government's move. The opposition TDP sponsored several of these petitions. Farmers in Amaravati who agreed to allow the government takes their land wanted the government to keep to the original plan and construct a world-class capital city in the same place. The petitions have just lately begun to be heard by the court. In an affidavit filed on Monday, Advocate General Subrahmanyam Sriram informed the High Court of the government's decision. The administration would repeal the Act, he told the court.

After addressing the gaps in the previous Bill, the Chief Minister promised to introduce a "better" and "more comprehensive" Bill. He chastised the TDP government for choosing Amaravati as the capital because it lacked basic infrastructures like roads and drainage. He pointed out that simply that would cost Rs 1 lakh crore, which might rise to Rs 5 or 6 lakh crore in ten years.

Why is he going to introduce a new Bill in place of the current one?

Jagan stated that his government introduced the three capitals bill to ensure that the state's growth is equitable and balanced, taking into account people's aspirations. He went on to say that the opposition party had been distributing false information and creating legal barriers in the process. He believes that the government's aims should be thoroughly explained to the public and that revisions should be made to the present Bill to close the loopholes. He explained, "The Act was being withdrawn in the wider public interest."

Will Andhra Pradesh now have a single capital?

It's unclear whether the government intends to keep Amaravati as the sole capital. Throughout his speech, the Chief Minister emphasized the importance of decentralization for equitable regional development. The CM also did not establish a date for the new Bill's introduction.

What were the reactions of the other parties to the decision?

Nara Lokesh, the son of former CM and TDP president N Chandrababu Naidu and TDP national general secretary, accused the government of spreading "lies" and "half-truths," claiming that the previous government took great care to develop Amaravati as the capital for equitable justice and development of all regions.

While criticizing Jagan for playing "mind games" with the people of the state and behaving without commitment or accountability, he noted that the CM had pledged to build Amaravati before the 2019 elections. "Unfortunately, he was unable to articulate a clear position on his strategy for the state capital and the state's general growth," Lokesh said.

The BJP, on the other side, said that the government chose to abolish the Act in order to avoid an adverse High Court ruling. Before making any decision on decentralization, Somu Veerraju, president of the BJP's AP unit, said he has asked the CM to consult with all political parties and solicit public opinion.