Air link milestone for Singapore, Andhra Pradesh capital city
NEW DELHI (The Straits Times/ANN) - Direct flight between Changi and Vijaywada airports will boost ties and help develop Amaravati city.
The first direct flight from Amaravati's Vijaywada Airport to Singapore landed at Changi Airport yesterday (Nov 5) morning, completing a round trip that takes less than four hours either way.
The state of Andhra Pradesh, in south-east India, is developing Amaravati as a new capital city, with plans for homes, industries and world class infrastructure.
Several firms from Singapore have been involved in planning and developing the city.
In a Facebook post, Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran called the new air link between Singapore and Amaravati "another significant milestone in Singapore's partnership with Andhra Pradesh to build the new capital city of Amaravati".
"It will not only increase connectivity between Andhra Pradesh and Singapore but also strengthen our people-to-people linkages," he said. "Many people travel frequently to Andhra Pradesh for business. Flying direct to Vijayawada in just under four hours, and from there take a short drive to the capital city Amaravati, will save them significant time and hassle."
Amaravati is on the banks of the Krishna river next to Vijaywada.
Officials from the Amaravati Partnership Office and Singapore's Ministry of Trade and Industry welcomed guests on the flight operated by Indian carrier Indigo Airlines, which will fly twice weekly to Singapore and back.
The first leg of the trip took off from Singapore and landed in Vijaywada Airport on Tuesday.
Singapore has been involved in the city's development since the beginning, with Surbana Jurong submitting the city's masterplan in 2015 and Ascendas-Singbridge and Sembcorp Development chosen as master developers for a 6.84 sq km start-up area or the commercial core of the capital city.
Singapore has appointed authorised visa agents in Vijayawada to facilitate Indian nationals visiting Singapore as well as those who are transiting in the Republic, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Indian officials said the air link would help develop Amaravati city.
"There was no direct flight to Singapore, so people had to go to Chennai or Hyderabad. Singapore is associated with the capital city development. So many people are coming and going," said Mr Ajay Jain, principal secretary for investment and infrastructure in the Andhra Pradesh government.
"We are also looking at connecting to Dubai. So from Singapore and Dubai, you can fly anywhere in the world. This will boost tourism, culture and industry," he added.
The Andhra Pradesh Singapore Business Council, which was formed by the Singapore Business Federation and the Confederation of Indian Industry, said air connectivity would boost business.
"The direct connectivity will see greater flow of business travellers into Andhra Pradesh and encourage Singapore companies which are seeking opportunities in Andhra Pradesh," it said in a statement.
The council said it has organised several business missions to the state and is working with Singapore companies for their participation in Amaravati Construction City.
PROJECTS SET TO TAKE OFF
Many projects are set to take off in the coming months in Amaravati, said officials involved with the development of Andhra Pradesh's capital city.
The Amaravati capital region is being built on 7,420 sq km of agricultural land on the banks of the Krishna river between the cities of Vijayawada and Guntur.
Construction works on some government buildings and housing for government officials and legislators have started.
Mr Ajay Jain, principal secretary (investment and infrastructure) in the Andhra Pradesh government, told The Straits Times: "Amaravati is progressing very fast. There are 4,000 houses that will be completed by March for all government employees. The building of the High Court has been tendered.
"For the assembly, we have to finalise the tender. Some of the state government offices have started construction as well."
He added that projects worth 500 billion rupees (S$9.7 billion) were in the works to build infrastructure from roads to housing to offices.
Mr Jain said that the land acquisition process was almost complete, with 98 per cent of the land for the capital city under government possession. Efforts are being made to acquire the remaining 2 per cent.
Andhra Pradesh needs a new capital city as it lost its capital Hyderabad to Telangana, India's newest state that was created in June 2014. The agreement sees the two states sharing Hyderabad for 10 years.
Andhra Pradesh chief minister Chandrababu Naidu has been trying to push the project along and has on numerous occasions spoken of replicating Singapore.
But critics said that work is not moving fast enough and that work should have been in a more advanced stage by now.
"Nothing much has happened on the ground, except for a couple of structures. Everything is still in the planning stage. Only the blueprints are ready and real estate prices have increased," said Mr K. Nageshwar, an independent legislator in Andhra Pradesh.