Jaunts galore, but where's AP's 'world-class' capital?
The Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu speaks about everything in terms of 'world-class' - world-class capital, world-class healthcare, world-class education hubs, world-class expressways, and so on and so forth.
This love for 'world-class' began in history with his conception of a 'world-class' capital for Andhra Pradesh, which, the CM says, would become one of the top five capital cities in the world, once completed.
The chief minister, his ministers and dozens of officials have made innumerable visits to many Eurasian, North American, South American and central Asian countries to study their capital cities and other important cities in the past 23 months. These trips are meant to learn and incorporate all 'world-class' practices from across the globe, he says.
Meanwhile, in his state, ministers and babus call 2016 ‘The year of foreign jaunts’. And the government has been facing severe repudiation from other quarters.
Though the construction of the capital is still a non-starter, the expensive ‘capital study’ is going on full throttle. This week is taking many senior officials again to China.
A ten-member official team, lead by Lakshmi Parthasarathi, a retired IAS officer and the chairperson of Capital City Development and Management Corporation(CCDMC) is visiting Guizhour, China fromMay 5 to May 10, 2016. The other members of the high-level study team are V Rama Manohara Rao (addl. commissioner, APCRDA), Gandham Chandrudu, (joint collector, Krishna District), V Prasanna Venkatesh, (addl. Commissioner, Capital City Project, APCRDA), R Rama Krishna Rao, director (Planning), APCRDA , S.Rama Murthy, chief engineer (T&T), CCDMC, K Sudarsdhan Reddy, chief technical Officer, CCDMC, Vishjwanath Sista, chief planning officer, CCDMC, JSRK Sastry, director, strategy, APCRDA and KV Ganesh Babu, principal planner, APCRDA.
These trips do not contribute anything to the well-being of Andhra Pradesh except spend taxpayers’ money. On one side, the CM shouts from the rooftops that the state is going through a financial crisis, on the other he splurges money on his and his ministers' foreign visits
The purpose of the visit is to get an idea of Urban, Architectural and Infrastructure planning of these Chinese cites, said Shashibhushan Kumar, secretary, general administration, AP government.
Earlier, a dozen teams headed by municipal administration minister P Narayana and senior officials visited Austria, Kazakhstan, China, Turkmenistan, South Korea, UAE and Brazil to study the newly-built capital cities such as Suzhou, Wuxi and Hangzhou (China), Songdo (South Korea), Vienna (Austria), Astana (Kazakhstan), Ashgabat (Turkmenistan), Masdar(UAE) and Brasilia and Curitiba (Brazil).
These are, in addition to the trips to countries such as Japan, Singapore and Malaysia. Naidu personally studied the bullet trains of Japan by taking a ride from Kyoto to Fukuoka in November 2015. The CM has plans to connect Vizag and Chinnai with a bullet train via the new capital city, Amaravati.
Before that, Naidu made a six-day trip to China. As recently as December 2015, municipal minister P Narayana led a team of officials from Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) to Guiyang city in China to discuss the issues related to capital city and urban development.
Now, another team led by B Sam Bob, special chief secretary, transport and R&B is visiting San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and Dallas in US from May 11 to May 23 to study the road development activities in these cities, in order to incorporate them in the proposed Express Way from emerging capital Amaravati to Ananatpur, with straight alignment.
The members of Sam Bob’s team are M Ravi Chandra, secretary, finance, G Jagannadha Rao, MD, APRDC, P Subramanya Sarma (CE) and Hari Prasad (EE). According to official sources, the trip is sponsored by Aarvee Associates, consultants appointed for the purpose of preparation of techno-economic feasibility studies, and it doesn't impose on the other high-profile capital visits.
"These trips do not contribute anything to the well-being of Andhra Pradesh except spend taxpayers’ money. On one side, the CM shouts from the rooftops that the state is going through a financial crisis, on the other he splurges money on his and his ministers' foreign visits. We demand that a white paper be published on the foreign trips made and expenditure incurred and how these trips helped the state," said Kotamreddy Sridhar Reddy, YSRC MLA from Nellore. This, he says, is Naidu's style of keeping officials in good humour.