Nearly three years after Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone, Amaravati is largely deserted

... A staggering US$15 billion is needed to transform Amaravati from a few shiny buildings, villages and thousands of acres of agricultural land into the envisioned capital of Andhra Pradesh, one of India’s largest states. ...

Amaravati was envisioned as a metropolis free of the chaos, traffic and air pollution that plagues India’s urban centres.
Amaravati was envisioned as a metropolis free of the chaos, traffic and air pollution that plagues India’s urban centres. © AFP


An island of modern office buildings in the middle of fields hosts Andhra’s chief minister and state government, which relocated there after Telangana claimed Hyderabad.

Yet there is scant evidence of the promised utopia.

Half-finished settlements dot farmlands, most not connected by proper roads. Plans for the promised riverfront, housing and public transport have been marred by delays.

“We came here because it really has the plans and potential to become a global city,” said a university official at a huge but largely empty campus in the planned city.

“The on-ground infrastructure development, particularly the roads, has been slow,” he said, asking not to be named.

K. Nageshwar, an independent legislator in Telangana, said: “Nothing much has happened on the ground in Amaravati. It is still more dream than reality.”

Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu ambitiously suggested in 2014 that the project – unlike anything ever seen in India – could be completed within five years.

But since then officials have been reluctant to offer a timetable for its completion.

Naidu, who today governs Andhra from a hi-tech office in Amaravati, insists a magnificent city will one day rise from the plains

“I am not changing any plans for Amaravati. I only have to work harder to make it a reality,” the brainchild of the nascent capital said recently.

Cherukuri, the official overseeing Amaravati’s development, said contracts worth US$5 billion have already been issued, spurring the first phase of development.

It was hoped the project would also attract foreign investment, he added. But funds are running low.

Naidu blames the national government for reneging on promises made during the Telangana split that would have conferred a special status and ensured a stream of financial aid and incentives to bankroll the dream city.

The dispute soured ties with New Delhi, culminating with Naidu going on a hunger strike in April and severing ties with Modi’s ruling party.

“This is a prestigious project for the nation and if government of India had supported it, we could have showcased it to the world,” Naidu said.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley has rejected assertions Andhra was double crossed, saying it got all it was promised.