Andhra Pradesh Cabinet will hold a crucial meeting in Amaravati on Friday to likely decide the fate of the state capital in the backdrop of the Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy government's plan to relocate it.
In view of the legal, technical and procedural issues involved, there is speculation that the government may desist from announcing a new capital as such but could take a decision on shifting the Secretariat to Visakhapatnam in the first place, sources said.
The cabinet will deliberate on the recommendations of the experts committee which went into the issue and take a decision on the location of the state capital, according to Municipal Administration Minister Botcha Satyanarayana.
Ahead of the meeting, unprecedented security arrangements have been made in Amaravati region, particularly in Mandadam village and the roads leading to the Secretariat at Velagapudi in view of the ongoing protests by farmers against the move to shift the capital to port city Visakhapatnam.
The opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) lashed out at the YSRCP government saying an undeclared emergency has been clamped in the capital region.
The experts committee, in its report to the Chief Minister last week, suggested distribution of capital functions with the Secretariat at one place, High Court in another place and the Legislature in a third location.
Jagan too spoke on similar lines in the assembly on December 17, triggering widespread opposition to the move. Police said tight security arrangements had been put in place in Amaravati region.
Prohibitory orders under Section 144 CrPC and Section 30 of the Police Act are already in place and villagers along the road leading to the Secretariat have been asked not to allow strangers or outsiders into their houses.
According to media reports, leaders of the TDP party were also kept under house arrest to avoid untoward incidents.
TDP politburo member and Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council Yanamalla Ramakrishnudu in a statement here criticised the government for the crakdown on those fighting for retention of Amaravati as the capital and said there was "an undeclared emergency" in the area.
Based on Intelligence wings inputs, the government reportedly toyed with the idea of changing the Cabinet meeting venue to the Chief Ministers camp residence at Tadepalli, far away from the Secretariat, but later in the evening official sources said the crucial meet would be held in the Secretariat only.
The ruling YSRCP MLAs from Krishna and Guntur districts held a meeting at the Chief Ministers residence to firm up the partys stand on the capital issue.
"There is no way the government can spend Rs one lakh crore on the development of one city. Our objective is to develop all the 13 districts of the state equally, besides implementing welfare programmes," the MLAs told reporters after the meeting.
Satyanarayana, the Municipal Administration Minister, who attended the meeting with the legislators, said farmers who gave up their land for the development of Amaravati need not worry as the government was committed to honouring all the promises made to them.
He said Central funds would be secured to develop the lands given by farmers.
We will develop an Information Technology hub in Amaravati on the lines Visakhapatnam. An education hub will also be developed. We will not deceive people with graphics, the Minister said.