Expert committee recommended capital 30-40 km away from Vizag, says GN Rao

The head of the committee on decentralised governance was responding to media reports stating Vizag was found unsuitable to be the capital.
Expert committee recommended capital 30-40 km away from Vizag, says GN Rao
Expert committee recommended capital 30-40 km away from Vizag, says GN Rao
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Responding to news reports claiming that the expert committee which recommended three capitals for Andhra Pradesh had found Visakhapatnam unsuitable to be the capital, G N Rao -- who headed the committee -- told reporters that the ‘executive capital’ has been recommended to be constructed on the outskirts of Vizag, away from the core centre and the coastline of the city. 

A front page article in the Telugu newspaper ‘Andhrajyothy’ claimed that the GN Rao expert committee had recommended against setting up the capital in Visakhapatnam. The article also claimed that the committee advised the government to avoid increasing pressure on the city, and also elaborated on the dangers of locating the capital in the coastal city. It claimed that the committee had concluded that Vizag was located in a sensitive region, and that there was a threat of cyclones, floods and rising sea levels. The report also said that the committee had warned about the security threat owing to the naval base. 

Responding to the article, G N Rao on Wednesday said, “The news item has erred in understanding the analysis of the committee report. It contains the strengths and constraints of Visakhapatnam city and recommended it for triggering development process in the backward north coastal region (of Andhra Pradesh) by establishing one of the capital functions as an effective instrument in the Visakhapatnam Metropolitan Region (VMR), in the northernmost part of Visakhapatnam city and not by the sea coast.” He stressed that the committee had recommended the capital infrastructure to be set up as far away from the core are of the city as possible. 

While accepting the veracity of the constraints mentioned in the Andhrajyothy article, G N Rao said that the constraints of multiple cities, including Vijayawada and Machilipatnam, were also studied and presented. However, he said that the constraints have “not precluded the committee to recommend to locate the secretariat in Visakhapatnam city, and the committee specifically recommended to look at the same at the northernmost part of the VMR,” to boost growth in surrounding districts. He said that the recommended area for the capital is between Visakhapatnam and Vizianagar, 30-40 kms away from the core areas of the city, and not in places with pollution or saline water. 

Meanwhile, Urban Development Minister Botsa Satyanarayana lashed out at the Telugu Desam Party and former Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu for the report. “Till yesterday, TDP said that GN Rao and Boston Consulting Group reports are bad and bogus but now N Chandrababu Naidu and media is saying that these reports recommend that Visakhapatnam is not suitable for the capital city, which means they (TDP) are considering these reports seriously now,” he said. 

Responding to comments that the coastal city of Vizag is unsafe to be the capital as it is prone to natural disasters, he pointed to other coastal city capitals like Mumbai and Chennai, questioning if they were facing any such problems. 

He also chided Naidu for not following the Sivaramakrishnan committee report, which had recommended against locating the capital in the fertile agricultural lands of the Guntur-Krishna region. 

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