Brand Building, Land Speculation and Coercive Strategies for a New City (Ill)-effects of Partnership with Singapore in Amaravati (India)

Authors: Ramachandraiah Chigurupati*, Centre for Economic & Social Studies
Topics: Land Use
Keywords: Amaravati, smart city, neoliberal urbanism, Singapore, India
Session Type: Virtual Paper
Day: 4/8/2021
Start / End Time: 9:35 AM / 10:50 AM
Room: Virtual 38
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Building, branding and marketing of a new provincial capital city, Amaravati in India, in partnership with Singapore provided ample opportunities for neoliberal urbanism, land grab and land speculation. Singapore’s companies prepared master plans to develop a “world-class capital city” that will be a “pioneer Smart City of India”. The master plans presented highly misleading and unrealistic projection of population, employment and computer graphics of the futuristic city. These “seductive images” (Bunnel and Das, 2010) were extensively used by Government of Andhra Pradesh to create a huge hype around the new city. This also had a coercive effect on farmers who were reluctant to surrender their lands. The ‘Singapore model’ as a “realizable utopia” exerts “a powerful hold on the imagination” (Nair, 2005: 124) of different stakeholders. It is a fast track to ‘world class’ status (Pow, 2014). Singapore’s association and complicity has enabled legitimisation of a coercive framework for forced takeover of multi-cropped lands. Singapore’s companies were ‘selected’ as “master developers” through Swiss Challenge Method which had several provisions that were more favourable to Singapore than to the local people.

The partly built Amaravati resembles a ghost city today as the then ruling political party lost power in May 2019, and the new dispensation has no interest to develop this city. The agreement with Singapore has been terminated with “mutual consent” and the Singapore admitted that the project has “cost them a few million dollars” but would still be interested in India because of the “size and potential ofthe market.

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