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A world-class city

A world-class city

A setback for the Andhra Pradesh government surfaced when the World Bank inconspicuously decided to drop the infrastructure development project of Andhra Pradesh's new capital city Amaravati–effectively cancelling the prefixed loan of $300 million. Of the estimated project cost of $715 million, the World Bank was considering extending $300 million with AIIB providing the rest. Now, with the World Bank pulling out, the status of the capital city's development remains ambiguous. It was followed that World Bank's overnight decision to drop financing the ambitious project was fuelled by the unravelling of irregularities in the land procurement process at Amaravati. The World Bank had modestly set up an inspection panel to affirm the existence of complaints being raised by local farmers who alleged irregularities. Tagged with a probe situation, construction at Amaravati is naturally halted with a restart possible once the probe is completed. It was circulated that contracts awarded by the former TDP government, under which this project to build a world-class capital city was sanctioned, were not accurate and some irregularity was detected, which, in the large scheme of things, harmed the project's trajectory–as is visible by the World Bank's withdrawal. And, World Bank was not one to have made a rushed decision. They have been on the lookout, investigating instances of forced land-pooling since September of 2017 following a letter it received in the May same year by landowners from villages in the capital region citing irregularities. The Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) of Andhra Pradesh was as surprised as everyone else in the picture. It now has to look for an alternative financer but CRDA commissioner said that they will reason out the World Bank's withdrawal and accordingly take a call whether to rewrite to the World Bank or approach another. It, however, is not a complete dead end for Amaravati and the new YSR government who can still breathe new life in the development project through the centre's annual allocation–in the past five years, the Central government has allocated Rs 1500 crores. Besides this, the state government can also proceed to approach other lenders provided they cater to their prerequisites and in the process, also check what went wrong with the previous government's deal and resulting contracts. Minimal environmental impact, rehabilitating the local population as well as protecting the floodplains of river Krishna amidst other parameters. For the sake of the environment, sustainability has taken precedence in the modern era and cities planned to be developed from scratch tend to carry this as a glaring prerequisite. If the development project does not assure of minimal environmental impact and due reimbursement offered to the local populace when taking their lands, and livelihoods, then it simply flouts the contemporary norms accepted by institutions such as International Financers who take environment, as an alarming situation, very seriously.

Former CM N Chandrababu Naidu's dream of a world-class capital city rests in the palms of YSR government and Chief Minister Jagan can ensure the same promise albeit with a definite eco-friendly tag. The probe will lay the stage for changes and remedies will see the ambitious project kickstart once again. The entire picture of large scale construction already resembles the Amaravati scratch and important buildings will be first of those to be erected and inaugurated. Investigating the possibility of corruption, which, by the way, has been a strong impetus for World Bank to opt out of the project, will yield fruitful dividends for Jagan Mohan Reddy who must stay cautious of erecting a new city on the pillars of corruption. That is certainly not the start one desires for the so-anticipated sustainable and world-class capital city. While financial constraint is definitely a hiccup, it would not stop Amaravati from being built, however, serious corruption and irregularities plaguing the city, even before its being built, will definitely murder the purpose of building a sustainable city. In this context, Andhra CM has the opportunity to set things right once and for all and see a corrupt-free capital based on world-class standards and systems, erected before himself.

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