I would like to bring certain important aspects related to the Northern Andhra Pradesh districts to your kind notice on how and why are we subjected to backwardness? I am particularly keen in exploring whether this backwardness is due to lack of resources or due to sheer negligence over the decades. I would also like to discuss on how the indiscriminate labor and human resource migration taking place from this region over the years can be averted so that the same can be used for the development of this region. I am initiating the process of channelizing the available human resources for the development of this region.
Together with Srikakulam, Vijayanagaram and Vishakhapatnam, UttaraAndhra districts comprise of 25 lakh square kilometers of geographical area, and 10 million populations, which is more than double the population of Singapore. We are blessed with 350 Kilometers of costal line, and Srikakulam alone is the proud owner of 140 KM of coastal region. Despite the natural and human resources at our disposal, we are lagging behind in the optimum utilization of the resources.
Related to literacy levels and the quality of education in this region; Vijayanagarm district is quite vulnerable with the last (13th) position in the entire state and Srikakulam occupies 11th place with a mere 60% literacy. Traditionally, both Srikakulam and the Vijayanagarm were known for their literary and educational excellence. During 18th and 19th centuries these districts were well known for classical and modern literature, classical music, and Stage arts. The unique artifacts and quality of education that could produce legendary literary personalities had deteriorated and almost extinct today. Whom should we blame for this sad state of affairs and what could be the root cause for this cultural devastation?
Our region is enriched with rare tribal population with precious indigenous knowledge on language, medicine, music and culture. Yet, our aboriginal people are not empowered and are unable to withstand the onslaught of modernity. Our neighboring Telengana State could declare all tribal regions as panchayats and could grant them the right for self-governing. I wish the same procedure should be adopted here to preserve the precious tribal culture of our state.
Related to human migration, the less said the better it is; according to Dr. Chalam in his book on Kalingandhra, as many as 20 lakh people have migrated from Srikakulam and Vijayanagaram alone for the past 3 decades in search of livelihood. Small and marginal formers with meager land possession have sold their farm lands for throw away price, as they could not continue farming as their occupation and have started earning their living as daily wage labor in the neighboring towns and cities.
Our immediate aim should be starting several cottage and small scale agro-based, food processing units to absorb the migrating labor so that the economic self-sufficiency could be assured and the rate of unemployment can be reduced. UttaraAndhra region is suitable for many agro based industries; the cashew nut plantations should be directly connected to export development authority, as the cashew nuts hold great export potentiality and this would fetch direct foreign exchange. Cashew-nut and the other agro food based exports should be assigned to an independent and autonomous body with special economic powers. Subsidies and economic incentives should be offered to establish the agro and food processing units in this region so that the local youth with sufficient skill development and orientation can be encouraged to start such cottage industries can flourish to absorb the local unemployed youth. The fishing community of this region can be strengthened economically by establishing a cold storage unit here so that the rare marine and fresh water aquatic species could target the national and international markets.
To our surprise entrepreneurs as far as South Africa are trading with the people of Vijayanagaram to procure Moringa (Drum stick) leaves and fruits only to process and convert them as commercially salable products. Similarly, the best quality tamarind available here can be processed to meet the market demands. A rare variety of Moss Algae, known scientifically as single cell protein can be processed as a dietary nutritious supplement with meager training and skill development sessions for the local youth. The Government of Andhra Pradesh should support such initiatives to generate employment and revenue to the local communities and families.
Tourism Development could be one of the most attractive sources for revenue generation from the UttaraAndhra Districts that are known for scenic beauty, places of religious attraction and virgin sand beaches. Sri Kurmam and Arasavelli of Srikakulam district are attracting national and international tourists. They can be attractive tourist destinations with basic minimum infrastructure for the tourism promotion here. Tourism could employ the skilled and semi-skilled local youth in hospitality and recreation services.
You are aware that the GDP of Srikakulam district stands at its lowest for the past four decades and this could be bridged by establishing manufacturing and service sector industries for the comprehensive development of this region.
We need to improve and develop water resources to increase and spread our abilities to 30 lakh acres of land to encourage farming in the long term. However, there should be a short term goal of exploring alternative resources by encouraging low- water intensified crops to improve the livelihood of the small and marginal farmers. As rightly mentioned by Justice Srikrishna committee, the Government of India should establish a special economic council for the development of Northern Andhra Pradesh region by allocating special budget for the development of this region.
Government of India should consider an economic package similar to the one given for the development of the Bundelkhand region, by offering necessary subsidies to establish industries in this region. Similarly, in order to address the alarming number of kidney diseases in ‘Uddanam’ region, we need a research and development cell to eradicate the epidemic from the grass roots. Government of Andhra Pradesh also should distribute the budget based on the population, and special budget is required to UttaraAndhra.
As a civilian born and brought up in this region, I have a complete and comprehensive hold on the issues and challenges on the way to economic and medical well being of this region. If we could address these fundamental issues, I am sure we can overcome the major challenges that are acting as hurdles for the overall development of UttaraAndhra.
These are views of Dr Srinubabu. He Completed Graduation from Andhra University B.Pharm, M.Tech, Ph.D and Postdoctorate from Stanford University.