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US official backs Jagan move on Amaravati!

US official backs Jagan move on Amaravati!

Some of the decisions taken by YSR Congress party president and Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy might not have been taken kindly by the Centre and some foreign investors, but his decision on shifting the executive capital from Amaravati to Visakhapatnam seems to have got the support from some quarters in the US officials.

In an article published by a national daily, Katherine B Hadda, a senior diplomat who most recently served as US Consul General in Hyderabad, said some of the Jagan government’s actions have merit, most notably in the case of planning for Amaravati.

She said the capital city project of Telugu Desam Party president and Jagan’s predecessor N Chandrababu Naidu was always exceedingly ambitious and never without controversy. 

“Naidu oversaw the growth of the then-united Andhra Pradesh capital of Hyderabad into a major information technology and pharma centre, but Hyderabad was already a functioning metropolis. For Amaravati, Naidu was trying to transform a rural area into a massive, advanced greenfield city,” she said.

She pointed out that the TDP chief had rejected recommendations from a Central government expert committee to expand an existing city in the State, instead choosing a reportedly flood-prone area well away from the nearest significant population centre. 

“Funding was never assured, even with Central government money, private bonds, and loan pledges by the World Bank and Indian government building authorities. There were rumours too of slow decision-making and lack of focus by the then-State government, and disagreements with two prominent architectural firms working on the project. Today, over four years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid Amaravati’s foundation stone, little is there, save a number of temporary government office buildings,” Hadda pointed out.

The US official, however, found fault with Jagan for cancelling or putting on hold several high-profile State contracts and projects, many involving foreign partners who now face huge losses. It will be extremely hard for the State to attract foreign investors in future, she said.

There is a potential at risk of Andhra Pradesh losing the reputation of what has been considered one of the most business-friendly States in India. Without investments, it will be harder for the State to raise the revenues it needs for social programmes and economic development. Further, if more States follow suit, the dependability of India as a foreign direct investment destination may be negatively affected,” she said.

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Tags: Hyderabad Andhra Pradesh Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy