The Andhra Pradesh government’s move to repeal the controversial AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020, has raised even more questions on why the state needed three capitals in the first place. Chief minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy made the surprise announcement on Monday, even as the Andhra Pradesh assembly passed a bill to repeal the act intended to establish three capitals.
The AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020, would have allowed the state to have three capitals — Amaravati, Vishakhapatnam and Kurnool. The act, which was passed last year, focuses on decentralisation of the state. The act was passed alongside the repeal of an act passed by the previous TDP regime to build a grand capital at Amaravati. Reddy had argued that it made more sense to decentralise than to neglect other regions and focus on the development of one single capital. His predecessor and political rival Chandrababu Naidu had devised the idea of a state-of-the-art capital at Amaravati.
Reddy made it crystal clear that his government will come up with a “better and comprehensive” legislation, indicating he hasn’t dropped the three capitals move altogether.
Effectively, the old Capital Region Development Act, 2014, will come into force now, which means Amaravati will be the working capital until a new decision is taken. Last year, the then governor, Biswa Bhusan Harichandan, had signed two bills – the Andhra Pradesh decentralisation and inclusive development of all regions bill, 2020, and the AP capital region development authority (repeal) bill, 2020, that involved setting up executive, legislative and judicial capitals at Vishakhapatnam, Amaravati and Kurnool.
The act ran into controversy when thousands of farmers, who gave up over 34,000 acres of fertile land for setting up the state capital in Amaravati, challenged the two laws in the high court. More than 100 petitions were filed by the farmers in this regard. Many other petitions regarding logistical issues in coordination between the three capitals and misuse of taxpayers’ money also came up. Some others argued that it would be a burden on the exchequer to build two more capitals as a significant amount of public funds had already been spent on the infrastructure to make Amaravati the capital city.