An Indian City Like No Other, $15 billion Needed To Transform Amaravati
Amaravati promised to be “an Indian city like no other” a modern, leafy metropolis modelled on Singapore, where citizens would enjoy parks and rivers and breath air unrivalled in freshness.
But the southern capital of Amaravati has been painfully slow to materialise and remains little more than dust and farms as its crusaders resort to crowdfunding to turn the pipe dream into reality.
A staggering $15 billion is needed to transform Amaravati from a few shiny buildings, villages and thousands of acres of agricultural land into the envisioned capital of Andhra Pradesh, one of India’s largest states.
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Andhra once had another capital the booming tech and business powerhouse of Hyderabad, which pulses with IT know-how and a startup culture. But the revenue-rich city was assigned as the capital of a brand new state, Telangana when it was carved out of Andhra in 2014.
The two states were to share Hyderabad until Andhra chose another city as its capital. But authorities decided instead to build a brand new seat of power for some 275 kilometres (170 miles) away on the banks of the river Krishna.
While India has a tradition of planned cities, including Sir Edwin Lutyens’ New Delhi and Chandigarh in the north which was designed by Franco-Swiss modernist trailblazer Le Corbusier, nothing of this scale has been tackled for decades.
Amaravati was envisioned as a metropolis free of the chaos, traffic and air pollution that plagues India’s urban centres. It’ll be an Indian city like no other, said commissioner of Andhra’s Capital Regional Development Authority.
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Amaravati’s anticipated 3.5 million inhabitants would enjoy efficient public transport including a monorail and metro network, while trees would shroud half the city with a green zone akin to New York’s Central Park, Cherukuri told AFP.
Consultants from Amsterdam provided advice about an extensive canal system and expert opinion was sought from Singapore and Japan, among others.
However, nearly three years after Prime Minister laid the foundation stone, Amaravati is largely deserted.
An island of modern office buildings in the middle of fields hosts Andhra’s chief minister and state government, which relocated there after Telangana claimed Hyderabad. Yet there is scant evidence of the promised utopia.
Half-finished settlements dot farmlands, most not connected by proper roads. Plans for the promised riverfront, housing and public transport have been marred by delays. The on-ground infrastructure development, particularly the roads, has been slow.
Nothing much has happened on the ground in Amaravati. It is still more dream than reality. Chief Minister ambitiously suggested in 2014 that the project, unlike anything, was ever seen in India could be completed within five years. But since then officials have been reluctant to offer a timetable for its completion.
Contracts worth $5 billion have already been issued, spurring the first phase of development. It was hoped the project would also attract foreign investment, but funds are running low.
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