Andhra Pradesh government has constituted a High Power Committee (HPC) to look into the much contested recommendations of the GN Rao committee to establish three different capitals in the state.
Several ministers and top officials will be members of the HPC, which will examine the recommendations of the Rao committee that was originally asked to review the developmental plans initiated so far and suggest comprehensive development strategy for all-round development of the entire state.
The HPC will work on the concept of "decentralised development" and chalk out a "strategy on the way forward," taking into view various provisions of the AP Reorganization Act, 2014, according to a government order issued by Chief Secretary Nilam Sawhney on Sunday.
Apart from the GN Rao committee report, the High Power Committee will also consider the recommendations of Boston Consulting Group (BCG). The committee is expected to submit its recommendations in three weeks. BCG has also been roped in to examine the subject of decentralised development in the state, whose report is due in the first week of January.
According to PTI, highly-placed official sources maintained that no mention of the proposals on the 'capital' has been made in the HPC constitution order because of the storm that has kicked off following the Chief Minister's statement. But 'decentralised development' was inserted in order to ‘assuage the feelings' of those opposing the concept of three capitals, the sources told PTI.
Notably, while the state Law Secretary has been made a member of the HPC, the advice of the Advocate General on the further course of action will also be sought as the whole issue threatens to end up in a legal tangle.
A five-member expert committee, comprising of urban planning experts and headed by former IAS officer G N Rao, was earlier constituted by the YSRCP government to decide the fate of the state capital, which was meant to be established in Amravati and has been faced with uncertainty ever since the YSRCP came to power. The G N Rao committee had announced earlier this month that it had recommended three capitals for the state -- a legislative capital in Amaravati, an executive one in Visakhapatnam and a judicial capital in Kurnool.
The recommendations have been met with severe opposition from the farmers and landowners of the 29 villages in Amaravati who had contributed their land for the development of the capital under the former Telugu Desam Party government’s land-pooling scheme. Protests by farmers in the capital region have continued for the past 12 days, ever since the recommendation for decentralised capitals came to light.
A few petitions have been filed in the High Court against the plan to shift the state capital from Amaravati while the aggrieved farmers are gearing up to take the legal course of action to make the government honour the commitments made in the AP Capital Region Development Authority Act.
The state cabinet was expected to announce its final decision on the matter on Friday instead. However, the decision was deferred, and the high power committee has been formed instead, to go through the two reports and take the final call.
The committee includes Finance Minister Buggana Rajendranath, Urban Development Minister Botcha Satyanarayana, Education Minister Adimulapu Suresh, Minister for Industries Mekapati Goutham Reddy, Principal Advisor to the Chief Minister Ajeya Kallam, DGP Gautam Sawang among others.
Representatives of farmer groups protesting in the capital, however, expressed disappointment over the committee, stating that the committee is bound to be biased as it lacks representation from farmers and opposition parties. Speaking to a local media outlet, a representative of the protesting farmers said, “This is their own committee, what purpose will it serve? They should’ve invited farmers from the 29 Amaravati villages, and leaders from opposition parties like CPI(M), BJP and JSP,” adding that the YSRCP government was making decisions based on their hatred towards a particular community.
The YSRCP government has alleged that the TDP had alleged insider trading in land deals related to the Amaravati project. A cabinet sub-committee report stated that TDP leaders "prima facie established irregular" land deals, recommending a detailed investigation either by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), state Crime Investigation Department (CID) or Lokayukta.