Vijayawada: Ahead of a crucial Cabinet meeting on the capital of Andhra Pradesh, the police on Friday virtually sealed all roads to Velagapudi near Amaravati. Upset by the restrictions, villagers in Mandadam and abutting areas are staging protests.

Sources said the police have asked villagers at Mandadam not to allow strangers and non-residents into their houses and the village as they suspect protester might enter the area in the guise of relatives and friends. Acting on intelligence, they have already imposed Section 144 and Section 30 – to prevent crowds from building up – in all the 29 villages of the Velagapur Capital Region.

In nearby Vijayawada, the police have taken the Prakasham barrage under their control and have restricted vehicular movement on the river barrier. Even former Minister Devineni Uma Maheswara Rao and his followers have blocked the Highway at Gollapudi, which hit the Vijayawada-Hyderabad traffic badly.

The Cabinet, which has started discussing the pros and cons of a three-capital proposal, wants to convey a clear message to the people. While the majority of the ministers feel that the government should wait until the final report by Boston Consultancy is tabled. They have also suggested to the chief minister to hold an all-party meeting before taking a final call.

A senior Cabinet minister told NewsMeter that the protesters are from 14 of the 29 villages of the capital region as they are mostly supporters of TDP. “When the state government hasn’t made an announcement over the shifting of the capital from Velagapudi, why the TDP is in a hurry,” he questioned and added that apart from Velagapudi, the state will have two more capitals – Visakhapatnam as the administrative capital and Kurnool as the judicial capital.

The minister said the CM will take a clear stand to support the cause of the Velagapudi and local farmers who have given their land for Amaravati. A sub-committee will be constituted to address the issues of the farmers and Velagapudi will be developed as an extension to Vijayawada, said the minister.

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