Andhra Pradesh began a new chapter on Thursday with Prime Minister Narendra Modi laying the foundation stone for new state capital Amaravati near here, promising to fulfil in letter and spirit all the commitments made in the Andhra Pradesh Reorganisation Act.
Addressing a gala event at Uddandarayunipalem in Guntur district near here on Vijaya Dasami, he assured people that the central government would stand by the state in its journey for development.
“Be assured. This pair of (Chief Minister N.) Chandrababu Naidu and Modi will achieve in time-bound manner the commitments made and fulfil the dreams of Andhra,” he said.
Modi’s speech, however, was disappointing for Naidu, who was expecting an announcement on special category status or at least a package for the state.
Naidu, in his speech, urged him to do the handholding till the revenue-deficit state overcomes post-bifurcation problems and comes up to the level of neighbouring states.
Reiterating his commitment to build a world-class city, Naidu asked the global, national and local companies to become a partner in the ambitious programme.
Amid chanting of Vedic hymns by priests, Modi along with Chandrababu Naidu performed ‘puja’ to formally lay the foundation stone for the capital coming up on the banks of Krishna river.
Before the rituals, Modi went around Amaravati Pavilion, a special exhibition arranged to highlight the glorious past of Amaravati, which was the capital of Satavahanas, the first great Andhra kings who ruled from the 2nd century BCE to the 3rd century CE after the downfall of the Maurya Empire.
Naidu promised that Amaravati will rise again as the capital city, a vibrant economic centre and one of the most beautiful cities in the world.
He said Amaravati, new Andhra capital, will have nine cities – administrative, justice, sports, entertainment, education hardware and electronics. Seven regional centres and seven development corridors will be developed.
Thanking Singapore for preparing three master plans for the capital, he said Japan had come forward to be a partner in Amaravati’s development.
Hours before the ceremony, a MoU was signed between Andhra Pradesh and Japan.
Japanese Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yosuke Takagi said his country was ready to lend a helping with the experience and technology.
Singapore’s Second Minister for Trade and Industry S. Iswaran said his country was ready to go beyond preparation of a Master Plan to be a partner in the capital’s development.
Earlier, Modi handed over to Naidu soil from the parliament complex and water from the Yamuna he brought with him.
The state government brought soil and water from all 16,000 villages and water from holy places belonging to all religions both in India and abroad for use in the development of ‘people’s capital’.
Naidu, who sprinkled a part of this soil and water from a helicopter on Amaravati on Wednesday, said this would strengthen the soil of the capital and bring good fortune.
The presence of Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao at the event was the highlight of the day. He offered all help in building Amaravati and hoped that it will emerge as a great city in the world.
This was Rao’s first visit to Andhra since bifurcation of the state. The invitation extended by Naidu came in for praise from Modi.
The prime minister said both the states should work together for their development and prosperity. He assured all the assistance from the central government for both the states.
Naidu hoped that Telangana chief minister will extend all cooperation in solving inter-state problems and post-bifurcation issues.
Both the Congress and YSR Congress stayed away from the foundation stone laying ceremony because of what they called forcible acquisition of land from farmers for the capital.
Chandrababu Naidu, however, told the gathering that farmers voluntarily came forward to give over 30,000 acres of land under land pooling system.
Thousands of people from across the state turned up to watch the historic event. The authorities have put the number at 1.5 lakh.
Ambassadors from 14 countries also attended the event.