Notwithstanding the fact that Hyderabad would be the common capital of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh till 2024, AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has decided to vacate his state Secretariat in Hyderabad by 2 June, 2016. He has issued orders to around 35,000 employees, including officers and clerical staff, to shift to the newly set up Amaravati city limits by then.
As construction works of the capital city for which foundation stone was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 22 October are expected to commence on December first week, Naidu wants to create an economy of around Rs 100 crore in the area. The total salary bill of the AP employees to be shifted from Hyderabad would be Rs 150 crore per month.
All these employees will be provided accommodation either in makeshift premises to be built in the new capital layout or rented quarters in the city limits in Vijayawada and Guntur. He is keen on shifting the entire capital to Amaravati by the second anniversary of the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh. Only some departments with skeletal staff would remain in Hyderabad after that.
Two senior ministers — P. Narayana (municipal administration) and Ganta Srinivasa Rao (education) — who have been entrusted with the responsibility of overseeing the transition of staff from Hyderabad to Amaravati told The Sunday Guardian that the first phase of shifting of the staff would start by 1 January, 2016, followed by 31 March and 2 June.
These days, Naidu is not giving appointment to anyone who wants to meet him in Hyderabad. He is asking them to come over to his Camp Office in Vijayawada. Though Naidu has an official residence in Jubilee Hills, and two offices — one at AP Secretariat and a Camp Office at Lake View Guest House in Hyderabad — he stopped visiting them for over two months.
“Our CM is not meeting anyone in Hyderabad deliberately. He wants to impress on the employees of AP Secretariat and other heads of the departments (HoD) who prefer to continue to work from Hyderabad offices as their families are settled here. If the CM meets guests and visitors from outside in Hyderabad, he will have to stay here for six out of seven days a week,” Narayana said.
But, in fact, Naidu these days is spending six out of seven days at AP State Guest House on Elur Road in Vijayawada or in the AP districts. As a result, the chief secretary, the DGP and other senior officials are forced to visit Vijayawada to meet the CM. All review meetings are being held in Vijayawada and the CM’s office is run from there.
Narayana and Srinivasa Rao pointed out that shifting the capital from Hyderabad to Amaravati is intended to fulfill the aspirations of people of AP. “Our people take five-six hours to reach Hyderabad and feel out of place as the city no longer belongs to us. Moreover, the AP Secretariat is not regularly visited by any ministers these days,” Rao said.
Chief Secretary I.Y.R. Krishna Rao has been entrusted with the task of persuading the Secretariat staff to move to Amaravati in the next eight months. He held two rounds of talks with four officials’ unions and associations in the Secretariat and offered them three options — 1 January, 31 March and 2 June of 2016 — to shift. He promised them a special shifting allowance if they relocate with their entire families.
The CS told the employees’ leaders that the government would provide residential quarters to them and that the rents for initial one year would be borne by the government without cutting their house rent allowance. There is enough residential and office space in the limits of Vijayawada and Guntur, he told them.
The AP Cabinet has also passed a resolution to extend “local” status to children of the employees who shift their families to Amaravati or any district before June 2017. Otherwise, they will not be treated as locals in educational and employment opportunities. However, a majority of the AP employees prefer deadline till 2024, the expiry of common capital status of Hyderabad.
Real estate developers around Amaravati prefer early shifting of AP Secretariat from Hyderabad as it would infuse more money to the state. “If 35,000 AP employees shift their base, at an average monthly salary of around Rs 50,000, around Rs 150 crore will come to this area. At least Rs 100 crore will go to boost local demand,” Y. Harischandra Prasad of Malaxmi Group of Infra told this paper.
Prasad is among the infrastructure promoters who have been advocating early shifting of the capital from Hyderabad to Amaravati so that there will be more demand for new projects slated to come up in the region. “Shifting of government employees will help boost the local economy as the visitors from AP districts will come to Amaravati and business will prosper,” he said.
This will also spur the demand for more flights to Gannavaram airport and Vijayawada railways. More star hotels and schools will come up in Vijayawada and Guntur, pointed out G. Aveena, an entrepreneur in the education field. The civil aviation ministry has begun works to expand the Gannavaram airport to support more flights to the city.
However, a section of AP Secretariat employees are sceptical about the shifting plans. “Shifting of the Secretariat should not be done in post-haste, otherwise it will create more problems to us and the people. The CM should not be dictated by pressure from the real estate lobby. We should move only after shelters are built over there,” AP Secretariat Employees’ Union leader P Murali Krishna told this paper.