Amaravati: Had Jagan Mohan Reddy as the then leader of the oppositionopposed Amaravati as the Andhra Pradesh capital, we would not have given our lands, feels Koteshwar Rao, one of the farmers who gave their lands.
Five acres of land given by Koteshwar Rao has special place among 33,000 acres land given by farmers in 29 villages of Thullur block of Guntur district as it was on this piece of land that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had laid foundation stone for the state capital amid much fanfare in 2015.
This piece of land in Uddandarayunipalem houses three structures and the foundation stone plaque unveiled by Modi on October 22, 2015 in the presence of then Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu, his Telangana counterpart K. Chandrashekhar Rao, the then Governor of both the Telugu states E.S.L. Narasimhan and then Union Minister M. Venkaiah Naidu.
While a canopy shaped structure has come up at the place where shilanyas was performed by the Prime Minister, another structure has under it soil brought from all villages in the state to make it real people's capital. Modi had also brought soil and water from Parliament and Yamuna.
The premises located in a deserted place also has 'Amaravati pavilion' showcasing evolution of Amaravati as place of historical, mythological and cultural significance and the miniature designs of the proposed state capital.
Till a few months ago, visitors used to throng the place to take selfies and spend some time with friends and families. With the Jagan Mohan Reddy-led government mooting the idea of three capitals, this has become a venue of protests by farmers.
Last month, Chandrababu Naidu, now the leader of the opposition, also visited the place during the inspection of various buildings, the works on which began during his tenure.
A group of farmers from various villages were seen here to vent their anger over the attempts by the Jagan Mohan Reddy government to shift the capital to Visakhapatnam in the name of three capitals.
Koteshwar Rao's family had given 15 acres of land and this includes his own five acres. "When then Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu appealed to farmers to give their lands for land pooling for the capital, I was reluctant because I was not sure what would happen if there was a change of government. However, when Jagan Mohan Reddy as the then leader of opposition announced in the Assembly that he wholeheartedly supports Amaravati as the capital, I agreed," Rao told IANS.
Today, he regrets his decision as Jagan Mohan Reddy's government has virtually dumped Amaravati as the capital.
"It was a lush green field and I used to just sit here and enjoy the cool breeze and the serene atmosphere," recalled the 49-year-old. He wishes those days are back.
He used to grow banana, turmeric, maize and other crops on this fertile land. With the state cabinet on Friday deferring a final decision on three-capital proposal, Koteshwar Rao is keeping his fingers crossed.
"I gave the land hoping that by selling part of the developed plots promised by the government, I will buy a flat and ensure higher education for my daughter. I also wanted to purchase an alternate land nearby for cultivation but all my hopes have now been dashed," he said.
There were many like Koteshwar Rao, who were reluctant to part with their lands. However, they were convinced by ministers and officials referring to Chandrababu Naidu's track record as the architect of Cyberabad, the information technology hub in Hyderabad, when he was the chief minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh.
Children of some agriculturists settled abroad persuaded them to part with their lands to become a partner in the development of state capital and futuristic city.
With nine theme cities, and 27 townships, Amaravati was planned in an area of 217 square km as world-class city.
The Singapore government had made free master plan for capital region, capital city and seed area. It was designed not merely an administrative capital but economic and job creating hub and tourism centre.