The 45-day Court to Temple mega walkathon, organised by Amaravati Parirakshana Samiti, would end in Tirupati on December 17, with a grand public meeting later in the next week.

Former IPS officer VV Lakshminarayana joined the farmers in solidarity earlier this week
news Protest Tuesday, December 07, 2021 - 19:10

The Amaravati Parirakshana Samiti is firm on their demand — they want Amaravati to be the sole capital of Andhra Pradesh. The Samithi is a front comprising residents and farmers from Amaravati region to demand to continue Amaravati as the state capital.

Determined to keep fighting for their demand, the association organised a walkathon from ‘Nyayastanam to Devastanam’ — the High Court in Amaravati to Balaji temple in Tirupati. The 45-day march, which started on November 1, entered the Chittoor district on Tuesday, December 7. According to the participants, the walkathon will end in Tirupati on December 17, with a grand public meeting.

Although the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy government repealed the contentious three-capital Bill on November 22 this year, over 150 farmers, most of whom are said to be landlords from the Amaravati region, said they will continue their protests. The Samithi decided to continue their protest as the state government announced that it will bring out the bills in a new and comprehensive form. The previous Bill had proposed three capitals for Andhra Pradesh, with Amaravati as the legislative capital, Visakhapatnam as the executive capital, and Kurnool as the judicial capital.

A section of farmers and landowners of 29 villages from the Amaravati region have been protesting ever since the YS Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government proposed the three capitals bill two years ago for the decentralised development of the state. Over 33,000 acres of agricultural lands along the Krishna river in the Amaravati region was acquired by former the government of N Chandrababu Naidu for the purpose of building a world-class capital. However, the plans were replaced when Jagan introduced the three capitals proposal. 

The yatra participants said that their protest walkathon is being received by the political parties such as TDP, the BJP and public associations in the districts. On the 37th day of the Maha walkathon, activists spoke to TNM from Venkatagiri division hours before entering the Chittoor district.

Sivareddy, Convenor of Amaravati Parirakshana Samiti Joint Action Committee (JAC), said that their protest would continue until the government assures them to continue Amaravati as the state capital. "Though the government withdrew the bill, it has said that it will bring bills in a new form, which means they have not gone back on the anti-farmer three-capital project. The government's announcement sounds humorous as it has no clarity," said Sivareddy.

"It took the government two years to figure out the flaws in the existing bills. They might take two more years to bring new polished bills," he added. 

Sivareddy lamented over the allegations of the Amaravati movement being a single, dominant caste-sponsored one. He said that the region comprises all castes and religions. “The so-called dominant caste people here in Amaravati are less than 12%, and most of the people are from weaker sections such as Scheduled Castes (SC) and Backward Classes (BC),” he said. 

According to the leaders of the Amaravati Parirakshana Samiti JAC, the walkathon would also have a second phase in January 2022, which would start in Amaravati and end at Arasavilli Suryanarayana temple in Srikakulam of north coast Andhra Pradesh.

On November 22, the state Assembly passed the Andhra Pradesh Decentralization and Inclusive Development of all Regions (Repeal) Bill 2021, repealing the Andhra Pradesh Decentralization and Inclusive Development of all Regions Act 2020 and the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (Repeal) Act 2020.

The move by the state government was seen as a corrective measure to avoid legal tussles as the legislation may be struck down by the state High Court, given the state Legislative Council, the Upper House of the state legislature had not passed them yet. At present, the court is hearing over 50 petitions filed by individuals and organisations, alleging the proposed laws are technically flawed.

Laxminarayana, an advocate in the High Court and activist with the Amaravati Parirakshana Samithi, told TNM that they are ready to continue their fight until the government stops dividing the capital into three parts.

Laxminarayana said, "It was clear that the government is firm on going ahead with its decision to set up three capitals for the state. Our cases in the High Court will continue as we have already informed the court that we are against three capitals.”