The new capital of Andhra Pradesh will be called Amaravati, after the historical capital of the 2nd century Satavahana dynasty, Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu announced on Wednesday evening. He promised that the greenfield city would be the best in the world.
The masterplan for the state capital is being drawn up by experts in Singapore who handed a draft to Naidu earlier this week. He has suggested certain changes and the final plan is now likely to be ready by May 15.
The new capital has both "vaasthu balam and nama balam", the chief minister said, suggesting that the city’s design follows the ancient Indian science of architecture while the name itself carries strength.
The small historic village of Amaravati on the banks of the Krishna river is about 32 km away from the site of the new capital. It is an important religious centre for both Hindus and Buddhists.
Since Amaravati is associated with Telugu heritage dating back to the 2nd century AD, Naidu said it would be the most appropriate name for the nearby capital and it would be embraced by all Telugus, whether in AP, Telangana, elsewhere in India or abroad.
The chief minister also announced that the city would be linked with radial roads, including a 200-km-long ring road that would connect it with Vijayawada and Guntur.
According to sources, many in the government and the ruling Telugu Desam Party had suggested that the capital be named after TDP founder NT Rama Rao, but Naidu shot the idea down.
Meanwhile, the chief minister said that farmers had 'voluntarily' sold the 33,000 acres of land needed for building the new capital. But a few NGOs and political parties are already planning agitations against the alleged takeover of fertile land by the government.
The key challenge for the state administration will be finding the Rs 20,000 crore ($3.2 billion) needed to build a new capital from scratch. The state’s deficit is already close to Rs 18,000 crore ($2.9 billon), while the Centre has sanctioned only Rs 1,500 crore ($241 million) for the project.
The national government may provide more funds once the final draft plan is submitted, but that may not be enough to bridge the gap.