Andhra capital row: No interference by govt in panel report, says GN Rao in rejoinder

Opponents of the three-capital proposal have accused the committee of lacking expertise and being influenced by the government.
Andhra capital row: No interference by govt in panel report, says GN Rao in rejoinder
Andhra capital row: No interference by govt in panel report, says GN Rao in rejoinder
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Retired bureaucrat G N Rao, who headed the expert committee which first recommended three capitals for the state of Andhra Pradesh, has responded to accusations of bias and incompetence towards the panel.

A rejoinder was issued on Thursday through the Chief Minister’s Office, addressing various points of criticism raised by several people opposed to the idea of three capitals, including former Chief Minister and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) President Chandrababu Naidu.

G N Rao wrote that neither the members nor the convenor (G N Rao himself) of the committee had been in contact with any government functionary. “Hence the guidance from the government or from the CM or the Principal Advisor to CM does not arise,” he wrote.

Naidu has rubbished the idea of having three capitals in Andhra Pradesh and has questioned the credibility of the government-constituted expert committee as well as the BCG (Boston Consulting Group) who have backed the proposal. He even made a comment directed at G N Rao, saying he (Naidu) could judge Rao’s capabilities as he was a Group I officer in the previous TDP government, suggesting that Rao and the committee lacked expertise on the matter.  

G N Rao’s rejoinder includes details of the members of the committee, along with their credentials. The committee members include academics like KT Ravindran from the RICS School of Built Environment, Amity University, Dr Mahavir who is the dean of the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Delhi and Dr A V Subba Rao who teaches at the Centre for Environment, Institute of Science and Technology, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad. The other two members are urban planning experts Anjali Karol Mohan and K B Arunachalam. Arunachalam has worked with the Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (VUDA) in the past.

The statement goes on to say that the report was prepared by the members of the committee alone, with convenor G N Rao only facilitating the process. It also claims that the committee members had consulted with key government officials at the state and district level, apart from inviting public opinion on the issue and examining previous reports like that of the Sivaramakrishnan Committee on Amaravati. G N Rao claims that the contents of the report were kept entirely confidential until it was submitted to the government.

The idea of three capitals with different functions was first hinted at by CM Jagan Mohan Reddy on December 17 during the last day of the winter Assembly session. Jagan had stated that three cities — Amaravati, Visakhapatnam and Kurnool — may be considered as the legislative, executive and judicial capitals respectively.

The move has triggered protests in Amaravati, with many demanding that it should be retained as the capital. Farmers have been protesting on the streets for over a week now, demanding a rollback of the proposed decision.

The expert committee report, along with the BCG report will be further analysed by a high-power committee, for a final decision on the state's development plan, including the location of the capital.

The 16-member high-power committee comprising ministers and senior officials was constituted earlier this week.

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