Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu’s ambitious plan to shift the state capital from Hyderabad to Amaravati, which is under construction, from 27 June has met with stiff resistance from a section of officials and employees. As per the AP government orders, the secretariat and around 80 heads of department (HoDs) would have to shift from Hyderabad to Amaravati in the first phase.
But the employees of the secretariat have begun holding lunch hour demonstrations in front of the chief secretary’s office protesting the move. Until now, 12 IAS officers and eight IPS officials have sought permission from the government to go on deputation to the Centre in order to avoid moving to Amaravati.
On Friday, chief secretary S.P. Tucker faced an irate group of around 50 employees including some women who raised slogans against the government’s plan to shift the secretariat to Amaravati.
If the orders are implemented, around 23,000 staff would be relocated to Amaravati and surrounding Vijayawada and Guntur by the month end.
Exemption has been granted to employees who are scheduled to retire in the next two years and those who have been suffering from chronic diseases or are crippled. Women staff have demanded that they should also be given exemption as they might face security concerns in Amaravati, where basic facilities like buildings and roads are still under construction.
The government employees have questioned the need to shift to Amaravati, when there is a provision in the Bifurcation Act to keep Hyderabad as the common capital until 2014. “Where is the hurry to shift to Amaravati, which is still in the blueprints stage?” asked A.J. Murthy, joint-secretary, AP Secretariat Staff Association, while talking to this newspaper.
Some officials are linking the hurry to CM Chandrababu Naidu’s “hubris”, cliaming that the CM wants to prove his efficiency by shifting to the new capital ahead of time. “The capital shifting should not be treated as a mere showcasing of the CM’s efficiency. It should be based on ground realities,” said M. Varalakshmi, a secretariat women employees’ activist.
While lower-rung employees have been openly holding protest demonstrations and submitting representations to the chief secretary, senior IAS officials like K.S. Jawahar Reddy and A. Giridhar, who have worked in the Chief Minister’s Office for several years, have applied for Central deputation.
Many IAS and IPS officials have tried to opt for the Telangana cadre in the division of staff between the two states, but the Kamalanathan committee, appointed by the Centre to monitor the staff bifurcation, has overturned their request on the ground that there are not enough officials for AP. As of now, there are 31 vacancies and a shortfall of 29 AIS officials in the AP quota.
But AP Municipal Administration Minister, P. Narayana, who has been entrusted with the task of overseeing the capital’s shift from Hyderabad to Amaravati by 27 June, told The Sunday Guardian that only a small section of the employees were opposing the move. The minister said that the government has agreed to several demands of the staff like five-days’ work per week, 30% special HRA, and arranging transport facilities like RTC buses from Amaravati to Hyderabad every day. Narayana said that the CM was keen on shifting the administration to Amaravati at the earliest mainly to serve the people better. “There is no point in continuing the administration only for the sake of employees and some officials. If anyone wants to work for the AP government, they must work from AP, not from Telangana,” he said.