new cities, new human costs

part wild speculation induced by more wilder speculation elsewhere on the net, part outpouring of disgust:

chandigarh was built over 26,000 acres and hosts around 8 lakh people now, or around 1.6 lakh families. even if a slightly smaller city, for around 5 lakh people, was planned for andhra-rayalaseema, purely to host the administrative paraphernalia of a new state, what'd it cost the new state? in the last ten years, prices of real estate in random districts (with or without empty lots of the size indicated) from vizag to tirupati, depending on which place the bookies chose to bet on, shot up every time the debate on telangana got warm. the numbers quoted have always been over one crore an acre (people who have more authentic information, please correct me). so the land required for the new city itself could cost the new state anything between 5,000 to 20,000 crores or much more. if the new city is planned as an extension of an existing city, the costs would be much more.

how much more would the building of the city actually cost? the offices, homes, roads, parks and the rest? and the water, sewerage, electric supply systems? and how many villages or other human settlements would've to make way for the new city? and how long would the process of acquisition go on? and how could factors like litigation, unwilling sellers, environmental concerns etc affect the costs and time involved in building the new city? and so on.

and who will pay for all those costs? there has been very loose speculation about packages. who will pay for the package? the central government hasn't paid a single paisa as a package, by way of some kind of compensation, to any new state that has been formed until now. and packages on other occasions have not been handouts, purely. and why would the government of india, or all the people of india to be precise, pay for any package to clean up a purely telugu mess?

kishen reddy of the bjp says that the special package be funded through some form of cess on the city of Hyderabad for a limited period rather than running to large financial institutions for loans. the kishen reddies of the world have all the bright ideas to solve any critical problem, but most of the time, they spend a lot more time on turning all the bright ideas their constituents build into critical problems. by the time the bjp and other parties are done with it, i doubt if hyderabad would be capable of paying for its own sanitation needs.

one other kind of people who have proved themselves immensely capable of bright ideas, or at least fantasizing endlessly about bright ideas have been telugu techies across the world. to save telugukind, i propose that techie foeticide is something we all have to seriously start thinking about. you can't spot a techie in the womb? i'm sure the existing techies would solve that problem.


the 25,000 crores or 50,000 crores or 1,00,000 crores or more that would be used to build the new city (or the two new cities) over the next 5 or 10 or twenty years, has already started propelling flight of capital from many existing cities. it's already taking away many jobs in the informal sector, and by the time it's finished, many villages, districts, regions across the two new or three new states would have to be starved more and more of much needed government funds (and private funds, as they'd start flowing to the new city) to build the new city. by the time it's finished it could cost four times as much as originally planned, like ysr's infamous jalayagnam programme. and a few more separatist movements.

wouldn't it be simpler and more useful if we stopped speculating or fantasizing about grand new worlds and started improving whatever we have now? i remember the 1,000 small towns plan dr.jayaprakash narayan had talked about during the last election. here's the gist.

a thousand small towns could be improved and strengthened to provide urban services, create employment and build new avenues for trade and industry centered around agricultural products with the same amount of money as would be needed (but wouldn't be enough) to build the new city. those small towns would help millions of landless labourers, marginal farmers and artisans move out of occupations that are dying in the villages. the new city would be built to house about 50,000 to 1,00,000 new babus and their families who would be a bigger, longer drain on the new states than the unbuilt city. you don't need to be a techie to do that kind of math.


Bhanu Prasad said...


Also the coastal andhra is home to one of the most fertile soils on the planet. Is it humanly possible to acquire so many acres of land?

On a related note, major countries of Europe were industrialized when they "partial" democracies or dictatorial monarchies. India, perhaps the presents the unique case to see whether industrialization, with its allied land acquisition, would succeed in a Democracy.

ved said...

The lack of integrity from Andhra and Rayalaseema separatists is no less than that of their counter parts in Telangana. When they say Jai Andhra, invariably the hidden agenda is to make their city as new capital and reap the benefits. Little they know that under separate state scenario, the fiasco of Hyderabad and the capital centric policies will take center stage in the psyche of the people, and I doubt they allow creation of another Hyderabad. They better be careful what they wish.

'if the new city is planned as an extension of an existing city, the costs would be much more.'

Can you shed some light on this?

Kiran said...


I dont understand the point of your article - are you suggesting that in case of separation Kostha-seema do not deserve a new big city and must be content with improvements to 1000 towns(where will the money come from for that ?) ? or are you suggesting that separation will not solve the problem of capital city to the region deprived of hyd ?

Big cities are needed - urbanization is the best indicator of civilizational development especially in India. I dont think you with your understand will ever have any romantic visions of indian vilage life - and that they are anything other than caste ridden, de-individualized hell holes inspite of lack of air pollution. Big cities provide more easily the anonymity and the avenues needed for individual gorwth.

kuffir said...

bhanu prasad,

'On a related note, major countries of Europe were industrialized when they "partial" democracies or dictatorial monarchies.'

great point.

about acquisition: if we follow the trs rule of thinking only one tenth of a thing through before going ahead with it, yes it is possible. theoretically, everything is possible:) and this seems to be the age for armchair theorists and speculators..

gaddeswarup said...

Interesting article in EPW by Anant Maringanti:
Telangana: Righting Historical Wrongs or Getting the Future Right?

kuffir said...


'Little they know that under separate state scenario, the fiasco of Hyderabad and the capital centric policies will take center stage in the psyche of the people, and I doubt they allow creation of another Hyderabad. They better be careful what they wish.'

exactly. as i was saying to bhanu, before any leader or party or public intellectual proposes a certain radical course of action in an integrated state or in the very disastrous event of separation, people should make sure those proposers know exactly what they are talking about.

'if the new city is planned as an extension of an existing city, the costs would be much more'

i can see two or three major problems. as far as i know, most of the land around major towns in coastal andhra and rayalaseema already sells for much more than one crore an acre. second, we don't know if such large areas are available, except in scattered pockets. third, most of our towns have infrastructure, like water supply and sewerage systems, that were inadequate even in the 70s. fourth, the sociological costs of such a large 'new' population being injected into an existing city-society, have also to be considered.. there must be lots of other issues, but i think you get an idea of what i'm talking about.

sathish said...

land value is more than 1 crore only in towns. it varies in rural areas. in godavari districts farmlands are around 10L (market rate).

i think governament can acquire land at lesser rate in upland areas (prakasam, palnadu, nellore upland).

kuffir said...


'are you suggesting that in case of separation Kostha-seema do not deserve a new big city...'

whatever made you think of that? that's exactly what i am warning against. uninformed speculation.

the original sin of speculation was committed by the separatists. before thinking up the bright idea of separation, considering the seriousness of the proposal, they should have looked at it from all possible angles and more. how did they go about it? if, say, 30 important factors had to be considered, they paid serious attention to only 3-4. primarily, govt jobs and water for irrigation. you can clearly see how their class/caste perspective has shaped their prioritizing of issues. because most of the activists occupy secure govt jobs, they seem to think a couple of lakh new jobs would solve all of telangana's unemployment problems. and their rural background doesn't allow them to see how real incomes are coming down steadily in farming villages in the best irrigated regions of india like punjab, haryana and parts of coastal andhra.

'..and must be content with improvements to 1000 towns(where will the money come from for that ?) ?'

25,000 crores is less than the amount we have spent on irrigation projects which make no economic sense in the last two years.

i'd rather suggest the strenghtening of a 100 existing towns with around 1-2 lakh population, and of ten cities with 5-10 lakh populations so that we can make them economically capable of taking in 2 times those populations in the next ten years.

these are things we know are needed: the population of andhra pradesh would grow by around 40-50% by 2050. at least half of that population would be urbanized. can we increase that percentage to say 75% and make sure that half the increase doesn't happen in the slums? what should be done for the water/power/infrastructure/employment needs of those cities? if we look at those issues seriously, we realize how important water for urban/industrial needs, for instance, as compared with irrigation. those are issues we can deal with because we can use already available information to make projections..while making those projections and plans we also have the benefit of depending/dealing with certainties like current and future growth in revenues etc..

but what kind of certainties can we rely on while projecting future revenues and hence future growth in different areas, say, after separation?

should we compound the sin originally committed by the separatists and pave the way for more irresponsible politics?

that, very very, briefly, is my point.

kuffir said...

swarup garu,

thanks for the link.


thanks for the comment.

Bhanu Prasad said...


I am not sure how JP's plan will be practical.

Due to myriad geographical differences, few regions are ideal for urban settlements while some places are not.

kuffir said...

bhanu prasad,

the more important question is: are ready to recognize the reality that we've to move a greater portion of our population to the cities? the need for urbanization, and for moving large numbers of people from agriculture to modern occupations can't be disputed now, in the 21st century.

how we do it is another issue. jp's plan is one idea. more such ideas need to be explored.

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Bhanu Prasad said...


That's a valid concern. But I am not sure whether we need to move 90% of our populace to urban areas, as nations in europe have done. These nations had to do so, as they lacked sophisticated transport and communication systems during industrialization. Remember Internet was available only in the post-mechanized phase(by 20 to 30 years) of the western world

With in 20-30 years Communication networks will improve to a soaring high, where we can do almost everything sitting in a village. Then I see no reason why a folk in a village in Guntur District would need to move to Hyderabad or Visakhapatnam.

Of course I am dreaming out of my fantasy, but nothing can be ruled out :)

Sridhar said...

Developing existing 100 towns with quality infrastructure for future growth is a good idea. But I think these efforts should also be accompanied by creative ideas of job creation. Numerous manufactuing and services industries can be developed along these network of small urban areas taking advantage of quality infrastructre and based on the specificity of local natural resource abundance or human resource skillset. And further full potential of these towns, can be greatly realized by excellent ROAD and BROADBAND connectivity - both of which we haven't yet prioritized. Bhanu: you are right-on about the potential of comm networks! Excellent land transport infrastructre can have similar effect by reducing the cost and time of doing business and also by increasing the reach of remote areas.

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