With Parliament clearing the way for formation of Telangana state, the focus now shifts on identifying a new 'capital' for the (residuary) state of Andhra Pradesh. As per the Centre's commitment, the new capital for Andhra Pradesh has to be identified within 45 days after Telangana state formally comes into being.
Though Hyderabad will be the 'common capital' of both Telangana and residuary AP, people of coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema would like a new capital built at the earliest. Port city Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada, Kurnool and Tirupati are the major cities in coastal Andhra and Rayalaseema regions that form part of residuary AP. All these cities, each having distinct identities, are contenders for the capital status of the new state.
Visakhapatnam, also popular as Vizag, boasts of a major port and many public sector and private industries, besides being the headquarters of Eastern Naval Command. It is well connected to the eastern parts of the country and has a cosmopolitan culture.
It has an international airport but that is under the Navy's command. Efforts to develop a civilian international airport have come to a naught due to lack of defence clearance. Vijayawada is known as the 'commercial capital' and also 'political capital', besides being an educational and cultural hub. It is well-connected by railways and is the vital south-north link. It currently has a domestic airport with daily flights to major cities, including New Delhi.
Located on the banks of river Krishna, Vijayawada has good water resources. But land is in short supply here. Kurnool was the capital of erstwhile Andhra state between 1953 and 1956 before the (united) Andhra Pradesh came into being. But its location is a disadvantage as it lies thrown away from coastal districts. Tirupati is a world-famous pilgrimage centre but lies on the edge of the state.
Interestingly, native people of Vizag are said to be not so enthused about their city becoming the new capital. "Our peace will be disturbed," is said to be their concern. Ideally, Vijayawada is the "favourite" to become the new capital.
Among the many advantages is its central location and easy accessibility by road and by rail. Government authorities are said to be pitching the case for Vijayawada as capital of residuary Andhra Pradesh. Authorities were said to have identified close to 800 acres of government land between Vijayawada and Guntur, another growing city, for creating necessary infrastructure for the new capital.
"This is the best location but it will be better if the new capital comes some distance away from Vijayawada. Nuzividu area in Krishna district, just over an hour's drive from Vijayawada, will be a good idea," a top government bureaucrat told PTI.
There is huge forest land available near Nuzividu that could be converted into the capital, according to the bureaucrat. Nuzividu, however, doesn't have rail connectivity. The state government as such has so far not suggested anything to the Centre about the new capital's location. Initially, the area between Chilakaluripet and Ongole, abutting the National Highway-16, was thought of as an ideal location for the new capital but non-availability of water has become a deterrent, according to official sources.