ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846
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Following the Government’s Urban Footsteps

Andhra Pradesh Capital Development Story

S Ananth (sananth99@gmail.com) is an independent researcher currently based in Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh.

Will the inauguration of the Interim Government Complex in the new capital villages of Andhra Pradesh spur newer, better forms of urban growth? Our sixth photo essay from the transforming land of Amravati, the new capital of Andhra Pradesh.

 

The villages that will form part of the new Andhra Pradesh (AP) Capital Region are in the midst of major, albeit, slow changes. These changes are transforming the agrarian economy of the region. The importance of agriculture is quickly declining while there is a pronounced, concurrent discernible increase in trade and other services. The last few months has witnessed increased investments by the government on infrastructure. The work on the Interim Government Complex (IGC), popularly referred to as the “temporary secretariat,” has only added to the economic activity in the capital villages. Though the transformation is extensive, the pace of transformation is considered to be disappointingly slow by people in most parts of the state. 

Increased Land Conversion

The move away from agriculture in the capital villages is easily visible. A large number of hitherto agricultural fields have already been converted or are in the process of conversion for non-agricultural uses. A large part of the land given to land pooling lies unused since construction activity has not started. The conversion of land to non-agricultural uses by private parties is taking place rapidly.

The structures coming up in the village are mostly small shops or residential houses but, at times the buildings are quite large and obviously have a commercial use. It would be interesting to see how these new structures and buildings coming up in a haphazard manner gel find place in a highly planned, landscaped, “modern” city with strict rules about land use and types of structures that the government is trying to build for the new capital. 

The inflow of money has created new consumption dynamics in the villages. These changing economic dynamics go far beyond agriculture. A local cinema theatre in Thullur village now hosts a bar and restaurant. 

The bar and restaurant seems to offer bight economic prospects for both the parties in the context of changed consumption dynamics. Sources pointed out that the rent payable to the owners of the theatre is Rs 60,000 per month.  

Large Investments in Private Housing

The announcement of the capital in the region has triggered a wave of house construction in the region. Even small spaces, including cattle sheds, are giving way to houses or shops. The hectic pace of house construction and house repairs is visible in all the villages. Most houses have benefitted from a fresh coat of paint. Some of the houses under construction are large and it is the first time that the villages are witnessing the construction of such large, expensive houses. Rents in the villages closest to the IGC almost equal those in the cities of Vijayawada and Guntur.

Locals aver that this construction of houses is in anticipation of a large influx of employees who are expected to shift into the region after the completion of the IGC. With land speculation cooling, living off rents, especially on houses and shops is increasingly becoming an important source of incomes to those with property. 

 

Changing Infrastructure

The former sleepy villages are witnessing large scale construction and investment in public infrastructure by the government. The buzz of infrastructure equipment is constant and can be heard in the villages close to the IGC. Almost all the roads have received a facelift with the major roads expanded to double or even triple their former size. The investment in drains, power cables and street lighting is visible in almost all the capital villages. 

A clearly discernible change is the improvement in quality of roads and the increase in traffic. 

The village of Mandadam is a major beneficiary and has witnessed unprecedented facelift in the past two years. The village is closest to the IGC. A paved footpath is under construction—probably one of the few instances where a village has witnessed such an investment. 

Government Construction Activity

The government started work on the IGC located between the villages Mandadam and Velgapudi (Guntur district, around 15 km from Vijayawada) in February 2016. It will be spread across 45 acres and when complete is expected to cost an estimated Rs 750 crores. The IGC will include administrative buildings and the AP legislature. The government has set a deadline of June end for the completion of construction.

Two large infrastructure companies, Larsen and Toubro and Shapoorji Pallonji, were awarded the contract. The increase in construction activity often leads to traffic jams on the village roads.

Erecting the Interim Government Complex

The rapid pace of construction in the IGC is marketed as one of its strong points by the government.

The chief minister inaugurated the half-completed structure on 25 April 2016 since it was considered an auspicious day.

Agricultural Economy—For How Long?

The construction of IGC is probably the beginning of the end of the previously predominant agricultural economy in the villages. There are the occasional signs of agriculture coexisting with the present despite the rapid the changes in the capital villages, though the space for the agriculture and allied sectors is rapidly receding.

 

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