Hyderabad: Cash-strapped Andhra Pradesh is sending over 100 farmers to Singapore so they can see how the land bought from them will be used for the development of new capital Amravati, and also how they can invest their new-found wealth.
These are farmers who signed off their land to the Capital Region Development Authority for the building of Amravati after Andhra Pradesh lost Hyderabad to new state Telangana after bifurcation. Around 26,000 farmers gave up around 33,000 acres of land.
Sources say the government, in partnership with Singapore, has put up Rs 40 lakh for the tour plan, hotels and food while the farmers, wealthier after being compensated for their land, are paying for the ticket.
The first batch of 34 farmers, selected through a draw of lots, left this morning for the airport in a bus flagged off by Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu. "These farmers have created a world record by making a success of land pooling. They should learn how Singapore has developed and their best practices," Mr Naidu said.
There will be four batches and a total of 123 farmers will tour Singapore. Many have never gone abroad and were full of doubts.
K Adilakshmi from Tullur, who had given five acres of land, said she is happy that farmers are being made partners in the region that originally belonged to them. "I am sure we will learn a lot from Singapore,'' she said.
Officials say the farmers are expected to learn from Singapore how to invest the funds they have earned in exchange for their land, "so that Amravati can become another Singapore".
Critics say while thousands of farmers gave up their land, only those seen to be close to the ruling party were shortlisted for the foreign trip.
A consortium of Singapore firms, Surbana Jurong, is the lead consultant for building Amravati in 20 years at a cost of Rs 55,000 crore.
The farmers' group is expected to visit Singapore's Centre for Liveable Cities and the Singapore Art Museum. There will also be a session on construction laws for apartments.