The number of armchair critics of India’s radical economic reform programmes and bold policy initiatives is increasing with new development projects getting launched. A section of the media promotes this voice of a small minority who are driven by personal prejudices and ideologies that have become relics of the past.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu is the current focus of criticism by these peddlers of negativism. His plan to build a world-class city for the state’s capital is criticised by a vocal group with access to pliable mass media.
It is the reformer Prime Minister Narendra Modi who laid the foundation stone of Andhra’s capital city in Amaravati.
Whatever may the detractors say, Amaravati will be the focal point of not only Andhra Pradesh’s development, but also a model for other chief ministers who still refuse to come out of their cloistered environment to bring about ground-breaking changes in the way infrastructure should be developed, governance should be handled and modernisation should be speeded up.
Most infrastructure projects across the country have become non-starters or got delayed pushing up project costs because of issues related to land acquisition. There is a lack of transparency in giving compensation. Promises made to those whose land had been taken over were not fulfilled creating anger and social unrest.
What Naidu has done should be an example for others to follow. Within a year of coming to power he began building a land-bank of 33,000 acres without facing any resistance. Instead of using land acquisition law, he gently encouraged owners to give up their land through persuasion and offer of good compensation.
Under his land pooling policy, the owners sell the land in return for a combination of upfront cash and subsequent return of developed land. Of course, the land that is returned is less than the land originally sold under the pooling method. But the sellers are happy because the value of the land they are given in return would appreciate in the future.
Andhra is expecting US$30 billion in investments over the next decade. Infrastructure projects proposed in the master plan will require US$16.5 billion of investment.
Like a modern Smart City, Amaravati will see high-tech urban development having modern waste collection and disposal mechanisms, uninterrupted power and water supplies, ecological balance with green spaces which all be driven by digital tools.