“Amaravati Not Safe Place For Capital”, Says Andhra Minister After Floods

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Aerial photographs of Mr Naidu's house on the banks of Krishna river were widely shared

Visakhapatnam:

Amaravati may not become Andhra Pradesh's new capital, Botsa Satyanarayana, Minister of Municipal Administration and Urban Development, hinted today, pointing to the fact that large sections of the region were left flooded by heavy rain. "The Sivaramakrishna Committee pointed out that Amaravati is not a safe place for capital city. Many areas in the capital region are flood-prone, as you have been seeing," the minister said in Visakhapatnam on Tuesday.

The minister also highlighted the rising costs of construction – a subject that has provoked furious debates between the ruling YSR Congress Party of Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy and Telugu Desam Party (TDP) of former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, who visualised the entire project.

"People's money has been misused by the previous TDP government. The expenditure on the construction process in Amaravati is more when it is compared to other regions. If you have to invest one lakh rupees elsewhere, here you have to spend two lakh rupees. We will review and take a decision," the minister added.

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Mr Satyanarayana's comments come a month after China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and the World Bank dropped proposed loans worth $700 million.

The World Bank had reportedly sought permission to conduct an independent investigation into complaints of irregularities like forced land acquisition. Concerns had also been raised over sanctioning of buildings on the floodplains of the Krishna River.

In its risk assessment report, the World Bank had labelled the project "Category A", signifying it could have "significant adverse environmental impacts".

Last week, aerial photographs of Mr Naidu's house in Undavalli, which is less than 30 kilometres from Amaravati, were circulated on social media, amid claims it was under threat from the flood waters of the Krishna River.

Ahead of Assembly polls in April, Chief Minister Jagan Reddy alleged that the construction of the new capital was riddled with massive corruption scams. He also alleged Mr Naidu was involved in the scams.

Mr Naidu, a former BJP ally who quit the NDA last year after the centre refused special status to Andhra, has maintained there is nothing corrupt or irregular in the construction of what he has called a "self-financing project".

Civil society groups like the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM) and the Working Group on International Financial Institutions had welcomed the withdrawal of loans by the World Bank, saying there had been many violations.

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