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No Role In Deciding State Capital: Centre Tells Andhra HC

Amaravati:  The Centre has conveyed to the Andhra Pradesh High Court once again that it has no role to play in deciding the capital city of a state.

The Ministry of Home Affairs said this in a counter-affidavit filed in response to a High Court notice while hearing petitions challenging the state government’s move to trifurcate the state capital.

The counter-affidavit filed by MHA Under Secretary Lalita T Hedao submitted that the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority Repeal Act, 2020, was introduced and passed by the state Assembly.

“While framing the Act, the state has not consulted the central government. The subject matter purely concerns the state government and the Centre has no part therein. Further, the state’s capital is decided by the respective state government whereas the central government has no role to play in it,” the affidavit read.

The court was told that under Section 6 of the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act, 2014, the Centre had constituted an expert committee on March 28, 2014 under the chairmanship of retired IAS officer KC Sivaramakrishnan to study alternatives for a new capital for Andhra Pradesh.

The committee submitted its report on August 30, 2014, which was sent to the Andhra government on September 1, 2014. Subsequently, the state government vide Government Order dated April 23, 2015 notified that the capital city be named ‘Amaravati’.

It was also submitted that under Section 94 of the Reorganisation Act, the Centre shall provide special financial support for the creation of essential facilities in the new capital of the successor state of Andhra Pradesh, including the Raj Bhavan, High Court, Secretariat, Assembly, Legislative Council, and other essential infrastructure.

“The state government through the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020, published in the state gazette notification on July 31, 2020, has provided that there shall be three seats of governance in the state of Andhra Pradesh, to be called as capitals,” the affidavit said.

A HC bench of Justices Rakesh Kumar, AV Sesha Sai and M Satyanarayana Murthy had extended on August 14 the status quo on three capitals till August 27.

The court took up hearing of nearly 55 petitions filed to challenge the Andhra Pradesh Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Act, 2020, and the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) Repeal Act, 2020.

The counsel for the petitioners had argued that the three-capital move was “violation” of the Reorganisation Act as it “talks of only one state capital”.

Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan on July 31 had approved the two Bills and the same day the government issued the gazette notification.

Under the Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill of 2020, the government has sought to shift the key capital functions out of Amaravati.

It proposes to develop Visakhapatnam as the executive capital. With the shifting of the offices of the Chief Minister, Governor, Ministers and Secretaries, the coastal city for all practical purposes will become the seat of power.

Kurnool will be developed as the judicial capital by shifting the High Court there.

Amaravati, which was originally planned as the only state capital and a world-class city, will only be a legislative capital.

The move by the Jagan Mohan Reddy government has led to fresh protests by farmers in 29 villages in Amaravati.

About 24,000 farmer families had given 33,000 acres of land for development of Amaravati under the land pooling scheme five years ago.

Then Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government headed by Chandrababu Naidu had embarked on the mega plans to build Amaravati on the banks of Krishna river as the dream capital and a world-class city. Naidu had got its design prepared by the Singapore government.

(IANS)

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