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Amaravati, an ancient city’s rebirth as modern capital

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Vijayawada: No development of a new state capital has generated so much excitement as has Amaravati, whose foundation stone was laid by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday.

The backdrop in which Andhra Pradesh was bifurcated, the journey of the residual state from scratch, an experienced Chandrababu Naidu winning the public mandate, the selection of the Vijayawada-Guntur region for building the new capital, mobilisation of the best expertise and experience for the project have all added to the hype.

It’s a rebirth of sorts for Amaravati, an ancient city on the banks of the Krishna river in Guntur district.

Historically, Amaravati was the capital of Satavahanas, the first great Andhra kings who ruled from 230 BC to 220 BC after the downfall of the Mauryan empire.

An ancient centre of Buddhist learning, it boasts of Mahachaitya, the Great Stupa, with intricate carvings that depict the life and teachings of Lord Buddha, Buddhist sculptures and slabs with Buddhist inscriptions.

By using the name Amaravati, Naidu managed to strike an emotional chord especially with countries like Singapore and Japan, where Buddhism is the most widely practised religion.

While Singapore has prepared three master plans for the Andhra capital and is ready to partner in its development, Japan has also come forward to contribute with its experience and technology.

“We in Japan from our young days have learnt that this great land of Amaravati was a great seat of learning for Buddhism right from 3rd century BC and here is where the seed of Japanese nation’s culture and values have emerged. In our text books we learnt that Nagarjuna (one of the most important Buddhist philosophers after the Buddha) visited the city,” said Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Yosuke Takagi said at the groundbreaking ceremony.

“Amaravati is once again set to become a vibrant centre and great city and this time, Japan is here to help a lending hand with experience and technology here to contribute to this great city,” he said.

Naidu believes the new capital has the strength of both the ‘vastu’ and the auspicious name. He even sprinkled water and soil brought from holy places of all faiths and from across the state with the hope that this will give further strength to Amaravati.

By organising the ceremony on a grand scale and on Vijaya Dasami, Naidu has made a strong pitch for what he promises to be a world-class city and people’s capital.

Using his experience in developing Hyderabad as an information technology hub, Naidu has embarked on a mission to build Amaravati as country’s first Greenfield smart city, an economic and business hub, en energy efficient and sustainable city.

Proximity to well-developed cities like Vijayawada and Guntur, availability of Krishna river water, vast land, scenic beauty and Naidu’s grandiose plans attracted everybody’s attention.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi also hopes that Amaravati will be a model for his government’s urbanisation effort and the initiative to develop 100 Smart Cities.

According to the master plan for the Seed Capital Area (SCA), the core city will be spread over 16.9 square km.

Amaravati will comprise nine cities – knowledge city, financial city, health city, tourism city, government city, sports city, electronics city, justice city and education city.

The capital city has been planned for about 300,000 residents. Its first phase is expected to be completed by 2018.

It provides a transport hierarchy that comprises of an integrated network of Metro rail network of about 12 kms, bus rapid transit of about 15 kms, downtown road of about 7 km, arterial roads and sub-arterial roads of about 26 kms and collector roads of about 53 kms, with varying rights-of-way.

The landscape would create world class aesthetic appeal to make city liveable and attractive.

Special emphasis has been laid on development of extensive walkways and pedestrianisation, interlinked with open and green spaces with a blue and green network of more than 25 kms to promote walk-to-work environment and non-motorised transport.

Naidu has invited companies from Singapore, Japan, China and other countries to participate in the development of the state capital, which needs over $2 billion.

With the process of designing and conceptualisation over, the real work on building the capital starts now. Naidu faces a challenge in mobilising the funds from the central government and investments from abroad.

With the Centre yet to clearly indicate when the state will get the special category status or special package, Naidu may have to wait longer to begin the real work to develop his dream city.

(Mohammed Shafeeq, IANS)

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Saudi, India Admit of Putting Pressure on Countries Supporting Terrorism

Prince Mohammad said the relations between two countries were "older than history" and these were "in blood".

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The Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi at the signing of agreements between India and the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 03, 2016. Wikipedia

Against the backdrop of the Pulwama terror attack, India and Saudi Arabia on Wednesday said there was a need to exert “all possible pressure” on countries which extend any kind of support to terror activities as they agreed for biennial summit meetings and formation of the Strategic Partnership Council.

However, at the joint interaction with the media after delegation-level talks between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and visiting Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, there was no reference to Pakistan by either leader.

The Prince had just made a two-day visit to Pakistan that ended on Tuesday.

Modi said that the “barbaric terror attack” in Pulwama was another manifestation of the danger posed by terrorism to humanity.

“We agree that to deal with it effectively, there is need to put all possible pressure on countries which are giving any kind of support to terrorism,” Modi said.

India, Saudi
Modi said that the “barbaric terror attack” in Pulwama was another manifestation of the danger posed by terrorism to humanity. VOA

He said it was extremely necessary to destroy terror infrastructure and to punish terrorists and their supporters.

Modi said there was need for an action plan to deal with extremism so that the youths were not misguided by forces linked to terror and violence.

“I am happy that Saudi Arabia and India have common thoughts on this,” he said.

Prince Salman, in his remarks, said that extremism and terrorism were common concerns of the two countries and Saudi Arabia will fully cooperate with India.

“As far as the issue of extremism and terrorism, these are our common concerns. We want to tell India that we are ready to cooperate with you in every way, whether it is intelligence sharing.. Not only India but we will work with all the countries in the neighbourhood so that the future of the coming generations is secured,” he said.

Prince Mohammed said India offers investment opportunities of over $100 billon and his country will work to make investments beneficial for both countries.

He said the relations between two countries were “older than history” and these were “in blood”.

Modi said Saudi Arabia was among the most important strategic partners of India in the 21st century.

“It is in our extended neighbourhood, is a close friend and an important source of India’s energy needs. I am happy that in accordance with your suggestion, we have agreed for biennial summit meetings and Strategic Partnership Council. This will strengthen our ties,” he said.

 

India, Saudi
“We agree that to deal with it effectively, there is need to put all possible pressure on countries which are giving any kind of support to terrorism,” Modi said. Wikimedia

Modi said the two leaders discussed all aspects of the bilateral relationship and decided to take it to new heights. “We agreed to create a structure to facilitate institutional investment from Saudi Arabia. I welcome Saudi Arabia’s investment in infrastructure.”

He said time has come to turn energy relations to a strategic partnership and noted that Saudi Arabia’s participation in world’s largest refinery and strategic petroleum reserve will take their energy relationship beyond that of buyer and seller.

Modi said that the two countries have a common interest in ensuring peace and stability in West Asia and the Gulf.

“Today in our talks, there was agreement on accelerating mutual cooperation and partnership in this area,” he said.

The two countries also agreed that strong relations in counter-terrorism, ocean and cyber security will be mutually beneficial, he said.

He said the two countries have also decided to increase and expand their defence cooperation in the context of their strategic environment.

Modi said that e-visa facility for Saudi nationals is being expanded to boost trade and tourism and thanked Prince Salman for the increase in Haj quota for Indians.

He welcomed Saudi Arabia’s participation in International Solar Alliance.

“Peaceful use of nuclear energy, specially for water desalination and health will be another aspect of our cooperation,” he said.

 

India, Saudi
Modi said Saudi Arabia was among the most important strategic partners of India in the 21st century. Pixabay

He said presence of 2.7 million Indians in Saudi Arabia is an important link in bilateral ties. “You have always kept their welfare in mind and for this, their gratitude and good wishes are with you,” Modi said.

Earlier, the Crown Prince, who is on his first state visit to India, received a ceremonial welcome at the Rashtrapati Bhawan here.

 

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He told the media that the ties between India and the Arabian Peninsula “is in our DNA”.

“With the leadership of the President and the Prime Minister, I am sure we can create good things for Saudi Arabia and India,” he said.

Prince Mohammed arrived in the capital on Tuesday for a two-day visit and was received by Modi at the Palam airport. (IANS)