Following the steps of Gujarat, N Chandrababu Naidu-led Andhra Pradesh is set to install a 197-foot-tall statue of the former Chief Minister NT Rama Rao in Amravati city.
The announcement was made through a video by the government. The opposition criticised the proposal of the statue.
The memorial project is reportedly estimated to cost around ?406 crore, with the statue costing over ?155 crore. The funds are expected to be collected through donations mostly.
The main attractions of the memorial are a museum, waterfront, ferry system, amphitheatre, selfie point and resorts, among others. It will be developed in two phases, first, the statue, and second, other tourist projects.
Expected to be constructed in similar fashion of the “Statue of Unity” in Ahmedabad, the statue will have lifts inside to carry people to the top for an aerial view of the city.
“The proposal is to form a trust, like it was done in the case of Statue of Unity in Gujarat, and mobilise money through donations and other means. But, as the experience shows, the State government normally bears most of the project cost. But, the project is still in proposal stage,” an official explained.
“They criticised Statue of Unity and now they’re doing the same. There are a lot of other issues which need focus. Farmers whose lands have been taken still need to get compensation, there is drought in a few areas and a few of the other areas have recently been hit by a cyclone,” YSRCP MLA Srikanth Reddy told media, adding that these issues need attention.
Earlier this week, Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu conducted a meeting to finalise the structure of the project, according to the chief minister’s office. He advised the development authorities that the NTR project should not just be a key tourism place but also be a key source of revenue.
CM Naidu has been claiming about making Amaravati the best capital calling it India’s Singapore. The smart city, of 217 square kilometers, is expected to cost about Rs 45,000 crore. Another set of estimates by the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA ) peg the expenditure to be over Rs 1 lakh crore.
At a time when there is a monetary crunch and paucity of funds with several pending irrigation and drinking water projects, which will serve lakhs of people in hundreds of villages in the State, could have been completed with Rs 1,000 crore, former Chief Secretary Ajeya Kallam said the installation of NTR statue was a criminal waste of public money.
“The money the State would borrow from next year would suffice just to repay the principal amount and interest. In such precarious situation, the government, which is likely to fall into a debt trap from next financial year, indulging in wasteful expenditure is an absolute sin. It is completely against the interests of the public as recovering from debt trap could take decades,” he said.
The legendary actor and politician, NT Rama Rao was the chief minister of erstwhile Andhra Pradesh for seven years over three terms. NTR was also the founder of the Telugu Desam Party, which is now headed by Naidu.