Andhra Pradesh, India is set to get a new state capital; one which planners say will rival some of India’s most industrious and populous cities
Andhra Pradesh, India is set to get a new state capital; one which planners say will rival some of India’s most industrious and populous cities. However unlike other Indian urban projects, the design and build of the city will be entirely controlled by a collaboration of other countries, most notably Singapore. This is the first time such a partnership has been attempted at this scale and fittingly comes at a time when India strives to become a more globalised nation.
Where is the new capital and why is it needed?
What will the city be like?
Why are other countries involved in the plans for the city?
What problems have already been highlighted by these plans?
Andhra Pradesh state lies on the mid-eastern coast of India and the new state capital will be locate in its northern arm, 200km south east of the current capital Hyderabad. Named Amaravati, after the second century city of the same name (and which is now regionally famous for its Buddhist sites and styles of ancient art), the new capital will sit on the banks of the River Krishna and be a well-connected hub for the surrounding satellite towns.
Location of Andhra Pradesh and the new capital Amaravati
A new capital is needed due to the splitting of Andhra Pradesh following protests from the northern citizens of the state that they were poorly represented in state decision making. The split sees the current state capital, Hyderabad fall into the new state of Telangana, which will take on state administration responsibility for both states until 2024.
Amaravati is expected to be a huge development in terms of size, ideology and vision in eastern India. If the 7,100km2 city (nearly ten times larger than the island nation of Singapore) is built as planned it will become one of India’s most significant industrial hubs with information technology clusters and cutting edge infrastructure to rival Hyderabad’s position as a regional centre for India’s growing computing industry. Two multi-lane motorways will connect Amaravati to Hyderabad and Bangalore and a new international airport will connect the city to the rest of the world too.
Since the partition of Andhra Pradesh in June 2014, planners have wasted no time in trying to make the new capital a reality. The finalised plans for the new city will be completed in June 2015, and works will start imminently on the US$16.5 billion build from then. The first phase of building, which will include the main municipal and commercial buildings, aims to be completed by 2020; an ambitious time scale for a project of this size.
In the first relationship of its kind, the planning and building of the entire city will be contracted out to other countries, with Indians having almost no role in the project management of the city on the ground. The design of its streetscape and parks as well as the architectural blueprints for its iconic buildings will come from Singapore companies and government run offices. The construction phase of the roads and airport will also fall to Singaporean companies while Japanese companies will run the main construction of buildings.
The Singapore government has also pledged to help kick start the industrial side of Amaravati. Singapore led negotiations with Microsoft and other leading IT companies and have created contracts whereby branch offices will be relocated to the new city. Through knowledge sharing with leaders of Singapore industry, it is hoped Amaravati will become a highly competitive city in both national and international business as well as more environmentally sustainable through collaborations with bodies such as Singapore’s Centre for Liveable Cities.
Ancient Buddhist carvings in second century Amaravati are a far cry from the information technology hub that Chief Minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu would like to see in the new city. (Source: Han Jun Zeng)
The benefits for both countries are various. Singapore is keen to recognise India’s rapidly growing economic position on the world stage and by having a central role in the building of a new business centre in the country, Singapore may look for reciprocal arrangements in the future: Singapore itself is undergoing a large scale redevelopment and extension of its overcrowded MRT (Metropolitan Rapid Transport) system, which in large part is being built by hundreds of cheap Indian migrant workers. Future works, for which Singapore has many plans, could see more formal arrangements for such arrangements between themselves and India.
The presence of corruption in the awarding of government contracts has long been an acknowledged, albeit unwelcome, part of many Indian building schemes. It is hoped that by creating a relationship where other countries are responsible for the new city’s project management, delays will be minimal and the chance of inexperienced contractors being tempted to cut corners will be reduced.
One could argue that the plans for Amaravati represent a new phase of globalisation where countries collaborate in more ways than were previously seen through traditional multilateral aid projects. With the management of a huge city project in partnership with another country, one may question how the sovereignty of the Andhra Pradesh state, and indeed India as a whole changes.
The projected US$16.5 billion cost of building the new capital has raised concerns about how the Indian government will raise the revenue needed. The Andhra Pradesh state has a fiscal deficit of around US$28 billion and has currently only secured around seven percent of the total budget for building Amaravati.
The land on which Amaravati will be built has also raised concerns. The new capital will sit on highly fertile land on the banks of the River Krishna, land which has been taken from farmers with little compensation. Over 130km2 has been set aside for the city, taking over the land of thirty one villages and causing land prices on the immediate periphery of this demarked land to rise steeply, beyond the means of the farmers who currently live and work on the land.
A cotton field in Andhra Pradesh. (Source: jankie)
Critics have already raised concerns about the fast pace of decision-making and how a city the proposed size of Amaravati can be sustainably and effectively planned in such a short space of time given the wide ranging impacts it will invariably have economically, socially and environmentally. Time will tell if, as the city of Amaravati grows, Singapore’s steadfast drive for efficiency will be able to work alongside these Indian borne challenges.
Increasing interconnectedness between people and processes in different countries.
A place that displays multiple real and conceptual connections to other places.
The services and facilities needed for an economy to function, for example transport networks, energy supply and health care.
The buying or leasing of large areas of land for commercial farming with little regard for the wellbeing of the people who previously used it to sustain their own livelihoods.
Aid that is provided by a group of countries or an organisation that represents multiple countries.
Connected to the administration that runs a town or region.
A growth in the geographical size of urban areas as a result of increased population.
Thinking forward to 2024, when it is proposed that most of Amaravati will be built, students can try to describe the city they would see if they visited and how it would relate to other cities in India and the world. Would the city attract rural to urban migrants as other large Indian cities have?
Students can think about the variety of arguments that Andhra Pradesh farmers have for not wishing to give up their land. This could be drafted as a letter / email to the state’s Chief Minister and describe the short and long term impacts building the new capital will have on their livelihoods.
Thinking about Singapore’s involvement in the building of Amaravati, students can hypothesise the feasibility of similar projects happening in other developing countries. A class could be split in two to argue for and against for example a closer working relationship between the UK and new city developments in South America and South East Asia.
Through some independent research, students can compare the development of Amaravati with other new cities such as Brasilia in Brazil, Abuja in Nigeria or the planned development of Ramciel in South Sudan. How do the plans of these cities differ from that of Amaravati and what reasons can account for these changes?
Introducing Globalisation KS3
India – Pictures of the Past KS2
New India KS3
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