Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy on Wednesday defended his state government's move to decentralise the capital.
Speaking at an Education Conclave in Vijayawada, Jagan said, "If we do not take this decision now, and continue with the old order, there would be great injustice to future generations."
Jagan's move to set up three capitals -- a legislative capital in Amaravati, an executive one in Visakhapatnam and a judicial one in Kurnool -- was welcomed by those in the state's Uttarandhra and Rayalaseema regions, but triggered protests in Amaravati as many farmers had given up their land for the capital project that was started by the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government.
Arguing that the state cannot afford to set up a new capital, Jagan justified his move, stating, "Today, my situation is that I'm sitting here and there is Amaravati which requires another Rs 1.3 lakh crore to provide basic infrastructure like roads, drains, power and water and now my ability to put in money is about Rs 6,000 crore, presuming that the borrowings come.
"The amount required is more than Rs 1 lakh crore and my ability to put in would be like a drop of water in an ocean. It would not even be visible," he added.
But it was not just about the finances, the Chief Minister also argued that Amaravati was neither close to Vijayawada nor to Guntur, and was about 30 km from both cities, making it a land with no proper infrastructure.
"Whereas, Visakhapatnam is already the number one city in Andhra Pradesh. It has all the infrastructure in existence. Out of this 1 lakh crore, even if 10% of this amount is put into Visakhapatnnam, at least in ten years, we would be competing with Hyderabad, Bengaluru and Chennai," Jagan said.
"Children of my state need not go looking for a job outside, but would have one destination that is in our own state, our own capital and our own Visakhapatnam," he added.
#AndhraPradesh Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy defends his move to decentralise the state's capital. Cites a lack of finances to develop #Amaravati as envisioned by TDP. Says that Vizag already has all the infrastructure in place. pic.twitter.com/r5VNeAfuMD— Nitin B (@NitinBGoode) February 5, 2020
He also wished to allay the fears of those protesting against the shifting of the capital.
"With the decision we took, we tried to make sure that everyone is happy and justified. We have broken down the seats of governance into three parts and we said Amaravati would continue to have the Legislative Assembly and be the legislative capital. We are not depriving it of anything. It will continue and the growth will take place in the due course of time," the Chief Minister said.
During his speech, Jagan also defended the introduction of English medium in all government schools in the state.
"All of us interact through computers. One fundamental question I ask is, what is the language of the computers? It's English. What is the language of the internet? It's English," he said.
The decision to make English medium instruction mandatory has also not been without controversy as some have claimed that it would work against the interest of preserving the Telugu language. However, others, particularly Dalit groups, argued that access to English medium education is a step towards increased opportunities for children from marginalised communities.
"Today, English has not become a luxury. It has become a necessity. Any of our children wanting a decent job and a decent salary has to compete with the world. This is the situation today. Just imagine what the situation would be twenty years down the line," Jagan added.