Amaravati Master Plan: High on Speculation & Weak in foundation, Amaravati, the planned new capital of Andhra Pradesh, is to be set up in a highly fertile, multi-cropped area in the Guntur–Krishna belt where the water table is just 15 to 20 feet below the surface. The Government of Andhra Pradesh has been aggressively pursuing land pooling through a series of not-too-friendly measures to acquire land for the capital which will be located in a low- to medium-risk flood area. Where the Singapore consultancy’s master plan for the new city, Amaravati, falters is in not visualising the need to accommodate low-income residents and the informal sector in the new capital, and in its exaggerated projections of employment generation in the information technology sector. read more
This paper examines Amaravati, the proposed greenfield capital of the bifurcated Andhra Pradesh state, against the backdrop of the rise of urban mega-projects across Asia, and the tendencies towards land speculation they have unleashed in Indian cities. It offers a critique of the land pooling mechanisms as they have played out on the ground in the affected villages. It argues that voluntary land pooling on such a large scale has been made possible through a coordinated use of coercive tactics and legal measures, including the land ordinance of the Government of India, which was re-promulgated three times and provided a credible fallback in the AP government’s dealings with farmers. Land pooling also facilitated a regime of co-option with absentee landowners aligning, on caste lines, with the ruling party.