Amaravati farmer protests intensify after expert committee recommends three capitals
Protests against the proposal to set up three different capitals for Andhra Pradesh escalated in Amaravati after the recommendations by the G Nageswara Rao committee were announced. A five-member expert committee headed by G N Rao was earlier appointed to decide the fate of the state capital. The committee announced on Friday that the state would indeed have three capitals in Amaravati, Vizag, and Kurnool, as hinted by Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy earlier this week.
With the expert committee reiterating Jagan’s proposal, mild tension erupted in the various protest sites on Friday night. Protesters have been mainly gathering at Mandadam, Thullur and Velagapudi villages, close to the Secretariat and High Court. On Saturday morning, protesters at Velagapudi marched to the Gram Panchayat office, painting over the YSRCP party colours in black. An Assistant Sub-Inspector of police from Tenali who was stationed at the protest site, said that the protesters had shoved the police officers who tried to stand in their way, spilling paint on the cops as well.
Velagapudi Gram Panchayat office where the YSRCP party colours were painted over in black
In Mandadam, where the road to the Secretariat was blocked by protesters, a boat was stationed in the middle of the road, with the words ‘Rajadhani Padava’ (Capital boat) written in the YSRCP party colours of green, white and blue. A few men sitting in the boat were seen derisively asking passersby to watch out for the floodwaters and join them on the boat instead. They were mocking the expert committee’s concern over constructions being built over certain parts of Amaravati like Thullur, which are feared to be flood prone.
Hundreds of farmers and landowners from 29 villages in the Amaravati region had given up their land under the land pooling scheme introduced by the previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government. They were promised developed residential and commercial plots in exchange for the pooled land, once the capital city of Amaravati was fully established. The fate of the much-hyped capital city of Amaravati has remained uncertain ever since the YSRCP government came to power in May, with most construction works in the capital region coming to a stop.
Protesters at Thullur
With the proposal for three capitals with varied functions being announced, these Amaravati farmers and landowners are now seething with anger against the Jagan government. The protests, which began on Wednesday after the CM made the announcement, have entered the fourth day on Saturday, with relay hunger strikes and ‘vanta varpu’ and many other forms of protest. However, the government hasn’t responded to these concerns so far. YSRCP MP from Rajya Sabha Y Vijayasai Reddy, who is also a close aide of the CM, said on Saturday that CM Jagan had announced Vizag as the executive capital of the state on the occasion of his birthday.