Creating three state capitals

Published: December 29, 2019

The government of Andhra Pradesh mulled over the sea of having three decentralised capitals. It is on similar lines like that of South Africa. Amravati could become the legislative capital, Vishakapatnam ‘port city’ could become the executive capital and Kurnool could be the judicial capital.

South Africa and three capital cities

The country has three capitals – Cape Town being the legislative capital, Pretoria being the executive and Bloemfontein being the judicial capital. It was the result of the Second Boer war (from 1899 to 1092) where Britain annexed the two states – Orange free state and South African republic (also known as Transvaal Republic) . The Cape of Good hope was then with the British empire and became self governing in 1872 and united with three colonies to form the Union of South Africa in 1910. The unique three capitals with was created after the end of the second Anglo-Boer war saw the Parliament of the New Union of South Africa in Cape colony, the bureaucracy in the old Transvaal Republic capital and Bloemfontein would have the judicial function.

Examples from other cities

Countries like Sri Lanka has also implemented this concept where Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte is the official capital with the seat of national legislature and Columbo has the seat of executive and judicial bodies. Malaysia has the Putrajaya as its administrative and national judiciary centre, while the capital and seat of legislature in Kuala Lumpur. In India, the Maharashtra has two capitals , Mumbai and Nagpur, while Himachal Pradesh has Shimla and Dharamshala.

Rationale behind the division of capitals

The aim behind this move is that it would allow for decentralised development of the state. The arrangement is based on recommendations of expert committee appointed in 2014 by the Ministry of Home affairs to look for alternatives of new capital. The panel chaired by KC Sivaramakrishna argued against need for a Greenfield capital city and focus on distributing governance beyond Vijayawada-Guntur-Tenali-Mangalagiri area to utilise this time to continue functioning from Hyderabad after the bifurcation. The GN Rao committee supports the Chief Minister’s idea and has recommended that assembly elections should be retained at Amravati with secretariat and High court moving to Vishakapatnam and Kurnool.

Challenges in the way

The Andhra Pradesh government led by TDP (Telgu Desam party) decided to build a capital in Amravati. With the decision to shift, the government acquired large tracts of land from farmers. The legislative assembly and secretariat were shifted to Amravati in 20116 with the High court functioning in 2019. Amravati has become the functioning capital of the state for now, however the farmers who agreed to give up land as part of the land pooling scheme have protested against the government’s decision of decentralising capital functions. The government needs to take into account the concerns of affected farmers it seeks to limit Amravati to hosting the assembly only.
There is a need to look at the idea of decentralisation with Amravati becoming a full fledged capital with a plan already in place to make it a grand city.

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