Andhra Pradesh’s capital conundrum

Andhra Pradesh’s capital conundrum

Why in news:

  • Recently, the CM of the state of Andhra Pradesh in an investors summit at New Delhi declared that Visakhapatnam will shortly become the capital.
  • Opposition parties pointed out that it was contempt of court, as the case was still pending in the Apex Court.

Background to the issue:

  • Ever since the State of Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated by the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act of 2014, creating the State of Telangana and the State of Andhra Pradesh, the issue of a capital city has always been a contentious issue for A.P.
  • The then government which is T.D.P then passed the AP CRDA Act.
  • The act established the AP Capital Region Development Authority for the purpose of planning, executing, financing and securing the planned development of the capital region development area.
  • A land pooling scheme was offered to the farmers in the capital region and about 33,000 acres were acquired for building the capital.

Why the site of Amaravati chosen for capital city initially?

  • The Sivaramakrishnan Committee appointed in 2014 favoured decentralisation and suggested the Vizag sub­region, as a potential capital space.
  • However, then CM was of the opinion that Visakhapatnam was already a developed city and had called it, post­bifurcation, as the ‘financial capital’ of the State.
  • He wanted a greenfield capital in a new region for development.

Changes that took place in 2019:

  • In 2019, YSR Congress defeated TDP to form the government and immediately appointed the G.N. Rao Committee to give a report on the earlier decentralised capital idea.
  • Based on the report, current Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy came up with the idea of making Visakhapatnam the executive capital, Kurnool the judicial capital and Amaravati the legislative capital.
  • In January 2020, the Assembly approved the repealing of the AP CRDA Act and passed the AP Decentralisation and Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill, 2020.

Aftermath effects after the bill:

  • However, about 63 farmers approached the A.P. High Court against the new Act.

  • After sustained agitation and court proceedings, in March 2022, the A.P. High Court gave a verdict stating that the State government should follow through with the earlier AP CRDA Act where Amaravati would be the State capital.

The Government’s Response:

  • In September 2022, the A.P. Government filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the High Court’s verdict, citing infringement of rights to federalism by the High Court and arguing that it is the State’s prerogative to decide on its capital city.

The verdict of the Supreme Court:

  • On November 28, 2022, the Supreme Court stayed the Andhra Pradesh High Court’s order for developing Amaravati as the only capital of the State, saying courts can’t act as a town planner.
  • But it has reserved its final judgment and the hearing process is still on.

With the CM announcing now Visakhapatnam as the capital city of the state there are various voices alleging that it was contempt of court.

  • A senior advocate of A.P. High Court Lakshminarayana has written a letter to the Chief Justice of India citing that the CM has grossly violated Section 2(C) of Contempt of Courts Act, 1971 as his remarks amounted to undermining the authority of the Supreme Court, and interfering with the administration of justice with regard to the capital city of A.P.

Syllabus: Prelims + Mains; GS2 – Indian Polity and Governance