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In the wake of creation of Telangana, the three possible contenders for a capital for the bifurcated Andhra Pradesh state are Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and Ongole.
1. The port city of Visakahapatnam seems to have the edge over others. The largest city after Hyderabad in undivided Andhra Pradesh, it has a well-developed infrastructure, an international airport, good rail connectivity, a fledgling IT industry, and four universities. But with the Bay of Bengal on one side, it can only be developed along the coast. Besides, the hills and forest areas around it will not allow for much expansion. The fertile land around it is quite expensive; in fact, last year, when there was talk about the city becoming the new capital, land prices rose suddenly. Dr C Ramakrishna, professor at Andhra University, Visakhapatnam, feels that if politicians from the city show more will, a capital township can come up between the city and Vizianagaram town.
Teachers and students of Andhra University have been demanding that Visakhapatnam be made the capital of bifurcated Andhra Pradesh. “There is plenty of land available beyond the Indira Gandhi Zoological Park. It is a bit far from the main city of Visakhapatnam, but most of it is government land, so there is no need to acquire it. The National Highway 5 provides good access to that side too. The existing airport can also be expanded.
Like Hyderabad, it has a cosmopolitan culture due to the presence of Eastern Naval Command, steel plant, Vizag Port, and a booming pharma industry where people from all over the country work,” says Dr Ramakrishna.
Visakhapatnam may prove difficult to establish as an administrative capital for another reason: it is too far from Rayalaseema, and is some 1,000 km away from Anantapur, the region’s largest city.
2. Location-wise, Vijayawada scores better as it is in the middle of Coastal Andhra. It is also the most developed city after Visakhapatnam and an educational hub. However, while the Krishna river flowing through it gives it enough water, it leaves little scope to develop it as a capital. “Add to this, the exorbitant prices of agricultural land,” says an official at Vijayawada’s School of Planning and Architecture.
3. Ongole enjoys the advantages of vast stretches of government land, and central location in the bifurcated Andhra state — it is 260 km and 370 km from Kurnool and Anantapur, respectively in the Rayalaseema region. It is