With a slew of futuristic features being embedded into its design, Amaravati — the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, a state that was left with no capital after Telangana inherited Hyderabad three years ago — holds a promise of being a city like no other in India.
Along with expertise from Japan and Singapore, the Amaravati project is bolstered by $1 billion in loan pledges from the World Bank and Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank, alongside another $2.3 billion from state and federal government agencies.
From cloud-connected rapid transit systems to energy-efficient buildings that allow the free flow of natural air, here’s a look at the innovative ideas on Amravati’s drawing board.
Not only can these features help the ancient city become a futuristic and world-class capital, they may well become a template for India’s 100 smart cities project.
1. Swanky Aesthetics and State-of-The-Art Architecture
Amaravati promises to be an aesthetically appealing city with state-of-the-art architectural adornments. According to the city plans, Amaravati will have four prominent gateways resembling the entrance of historic temples and have city squares designed on the lines of famous Trafalgar and the Duke of York squares.
Major roads will have waterways occupying their central axes for facilitating water-borne transportation similar to the water taxis of Amsterdam. The city will also have public spaces (like the London’s Battersea Park and New Delhi’s Rajpath in New Delhi). Recognizing Amaravati’s ancient Buddhist roots, the developers also plan to a design the High Court in a way that it resembles a Buddhist Stupa.
2. A Green-and-Blue Happy City
According to Ajay Jain, principal secretary, energy, infrastructure, investment and the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) departments, Amaravati is being planned as a happy city in which the ‘Citizen Happiness Index’ will be the core concept. Affordable housing and 100% Wi-Fi will be provided while overhead electric wires and mobile towers will be absent.
Being built on a 217 sq km open field in Guntur district, it is also being designed as a green and blue city i.e 51% of it is planned as green spaces and 10% as water bodies (which will help keep the temperature under control).
Special emphasis has been laid on developing extensive walkways and cycling tracks — interlinked to a 25 km network of open-air green spaces — to promote a walk-to-work environment and non-motorised transport.
3. A Smart City With Biometric Solutions
According to Amaravati’s city plans, every property will have fingerprints and iris scans from a new national database linked to it. Residents will pay property tax and utility bills using bank accounts and mobile apps linked to the database—a system intended to prevent owners from dodging visits by government debt collectors.
An underground power grid with smart meters will identify spikes in usage, making it impossible for poachers to climb up power poles and steal electricity (a common problem in India). Drones will also be deployed to spot new slums popping up within the sprawling parks it plans, allowing authorities to quickly clear them.
4. Thematic Regions
Amaravati will have nine thematic regions comprising of Knowledge, Tourism, Sports, Electronics, Health, Finance, Media and Government. Of these, the regions of Health, Knowledge and Business are witnessing the fastest development.
- Health Hub
With world-class medical infrastructure and huge investments in the health sector, Amaravati is aiming to quickly become a medical hub providing advanced medical care at affordable rates. One of the key features of this plan is the development of the BRS Medicity, an integrated facility comprising a medical university, a teaching hospital, top-notch R&D institutions and other establishments.
Recently, the foundation stone for King’s College Hospital (being established by the Indo-UK Foundation at an estimated cost of Rs 1600 crore) was laid in Amaravati. Other than specialized medical units, the hospital will also have an IBM Asia data analytics unit, an implant manufacturing unit and other health essentials.
- Knowledge City
Amaravati’s Knowledge City — which will also be the nucleus of all other theme cities — will house world-class educational institutes that provide quality education to lakhs of state students. With this vision in mind, educational institutions like AIMS, SRM University, National Institute of Design, Amity University, Amrita University, Centurion Institute of Tool Design, and National Institute of Fashion Technology have started construction of their campuses.
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In fact, the Vellore Institute of Technology (VIT) has already constructed its campus and began teaching its first batch in July 2017.
- Business Hub
According to plans, Amaravati will also get premier institutes of excellence (built on a public-private partnership mode) similar to Hyderabad’s Indian School of Business (ISB). Spread over nearly 100 acres, it will be set up at a cost of Rs 500 crore.
For this, he plans to rope in the elite of the global academic world (like the London School of Economics, University of Birmingham, Harvard Kennedy School and National University of Singapore) as well as the leaders of the corporate world. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundations, the World Bank and ADB are the proposed partners of this B-school dream.
5. Integrated Public Transport
Amaravati will provide a transport hierarchy that comprises of an integrated network of Metro rail of about 12 km, bus rapid transit of about 15 km, a downtown road of about 7 km, arterial roads and sub-arterial roads of about 26 km and collector roads of about 53 km, with varying rights-of-way.
Andhra Pradesh is planning to invest over Rs 16000 crore for setting up world-class power infrastructure in Amaravati and introduce provide best practices in the areas of energy efficiency.
The Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) and Energy Efficiency Service Limited (EESL) have been roped in to help create sustainable building designs, an optimisation of energy performances, renewable energy utilisation, low-energy building materials, sustainable construction technology, batteries for energy storage etc
Moreover, the Indo-Swiss Building Energy Efficiency Project (BEEP) will help the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority build energy-efficient and thermally comfortable buildings in Amaravati. Wind flow patterns and temperature studies will also be undertaken before implementing these state-of-the-art designs.
Tracking the Progress
Till date, Amaravati has only got its interim secretariat building — which houses the temporary assembly, in a 49-acre area, with major arterial roads being constructed all around.
However, these are early days. According to the timeline of this mega project, Andhra’s capital will be populated and functional only by 2024 i.e after the end of its second phase, when most of the buildings, commercial establishments, universities and the central business district will become operational. The third and final phase is expected to be completed by 2029.
As for whether all of Amaravati’s futuristic plans will come to fruition, that remains to be seen. Here’s hoping they do — not just in terms of their physical infrastructure, but also in terms of an atmosphere that promotes economic opportunity, entrepreneurship, creativity, modernity, cosmopolitanism and cultural freedom.
Note: All images for representational purposes only.