VIjayawada: The suspense is finally over. Employees from the Seemandhra region, who actively participated in trying to stop bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh, are celebrating the announcement of Andhra Pradesh's new capital location around Vijayawada.
"The new state of Andhra Pradesh is celebrating its new capital. This is like healing the deep hurt we felt because of bifurcation," said Chinni Krishna, an employee from Seemandhra region.
Sharat Chandra, a labour officer in Andhra Pradesh is confident that chief minister Chandrababu Naidu will develop a capital even better than Hyderabad. "Our chief minister is very capable and can make miracles happen. He will make it better than Singapore or even Washington DC," he said.
Hopes are high and so are concerns. Vijayawada, that has for long been called the political capital of Andhra Pradesh, will look forward to formally wear the crown. Of course, with no virtually land available, the actual capital is expected to be built just outside Vijayawada. It has been a commercial hub in the Krishna district, with fertile lands, thanks to the Krishna river.
The last few months have seen realty prices skyrocket in and around Vijayawada with speculation about the capital being located here. Land that cost Rs 10 lakh an acre has gone up to a few crore rupees. Prime areas are reporting rentals much higher than Hyderabad, close to what is quoted in Bangalore or Chennai.
Srikanth Reddy, YSR Congress Party leader, says Agricultural land has gone up to Rs 2-3 crore an acre and if it is by the highway, it now costs Rs 10 crore. "So land will become very scarce. It already is," he said.
Satyanarayana, BJP MLA from Rajahmundry, however said land availability should not be a constraint as a capital need not be sprawling. "By virtue of improvement in construction technology, we can build vertically. We don't need so much land for an administrative capital," he said.
The Krishna belt is considered a rice bowl for the country, with as many as three crops an year in some places like Vuyyuru. Many are worried that the fertile lands may disappear.
Former Justice Lakshman Reddy of Concerned Citizens Forum says this is a big concern. "They are very fertile agricultural lands and diverting them for non-agriculture purpose will affect food security."
Mr Naidu has promised a world class city that will beat Hyderabad hollow. To get there will cost at least Rs 5 lakh crore and for that the chief minister needs Prime Minister Narendra Modi's help.