Human Rights Forum supports capital shift in Andhra Pradesh

Visakhapatnam: The active considerations of the AP Government to shift the capital of the State outside Amaravati has merit, said VS Krishna and A Chandrashekhar State coordinators of AP and Telangana of Human Rights Forum.

In a release issues in Vizag on Monday, they said the social and environmental costs of a mammoth capital city like the one embarked on by the TDP government at Amaravati are too high.

“We stated this at the time of the release of the Sivaramakrishnan report in 2014 and we reiterate now,’’ they said.

This city was to be constructed on an abundantly fertile river floodplain, on wetlands and in an area that is also a seismic zone. 

It was a veritable nightmare in the making. Moreover, it is common knowledge that the entire exercise by the TDP government to construct this mega capital was mired in multiple illegalities and dubious transactions. It was a unilateral decision, without eliciting any public opinion.

On the agitations, the present government is treading the path of its predecessor. Section 144 Cr PC is being clamped and prohibitory orders under Section 30 of the Police Act are being promulgated the moment there is a protest.

This is highly objectionable. They condemned the use of excessive and totally unwarranted force by police on farmers in the Amaravati area.

The State government must initiate a democratic dialogue with those agitating in the Amaravati region instead of adopting an adversarial position.

The entire exercise of reverting the land to landowners is a cumbersome process and in some instances next to impossible. However, that does not diminish the responsibility of the State government to find an amicable and just solution to this issue. Justice must be given in a comprehensive manner to those who have suffered because of the deeds of the earlier government. The concerns of the small and marginal farmers and landless labourers and Dalits must be given priority.

This is a historic opportunity to correct many mistakes that have been made in the past. An important exercise like this entails widespread consultation with the people.

Krishna said there has also not been any transparency. For instance, several reports on the issue, including that of the Boston Consulting Group, are not even available in the public domain.

“Why should there be any secrecy, confusion and uncertainty on a seminal matter that concerns the State and our future generations?

Instead of transparency, what we are being subjected to on a daily basis are cavalier and nonchalant announcements regarding the capital issue by senior ruling party functionaries and ministers. There is no official pronouncement yet.

Ruling party and Opposition leaders indulging in mutual recrimination and abuse, duly echoed by their respective media, has become the order of the day,’’ he said.

He appealed the government not to repeat mistakes of the past. 

A centralised Secretariat at Visakhapatnam, or for that matter anywhere else, is undesirable. Rather, there must be several mini-Secretariats dispersed across the State. There will not be constraints of governance given availability of existing technology if properly and suitably deployed.

The activists also opposed damage to agriculture, displacement of people and loss of livelihoods while creating capital. Such consequences corrode democracy. Frugality, and not extravagance, has to be the guiding principle, they said.

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