The people of Northern Andhra Pradesh Districts, that comprises Srikakulam, Vijayanagaram, and Vishakhapatnam are the proud owners of the abundant natural resources of this region, which includes minerals, metals, precious stones, freshwater streams and the rivers and the fertile cultivable lands that stretches for millions of hectors. Yet, the people of this region couldn’t literally benefit by the mere possession of these resources, as several of the neo-capitalists that is keen only in minting money by exploiting the natural resources are operating them for mining; they are clearing the virgin forest lands to setup thermal power projects, nuclear power plants, and multiple other industries that pumps-in the lethal and toxic industrial waste to poison our fresh water streams and the atmospheric wind. The local population of this region are mere spectators and are not stakeholders of the wealth generated out of this industrialization. The greedy capitalists are keen only in looting our natural resources while subjecting the locals to the vulnerabilities of chronic poverty, backwardness and lack of basic and minimum facilities for the human to continue their living.
Dr. Srinibabu Gedela
When we look at the entrepreneurial scenario of this region, the less said the better; for the politicians and the rulers that ruled the state for decades, Uttarandhra is a treasure trove that can be plundered at wish, without considering the ecological and environmental consequences. Traditionally the ruling class had taken an undue advantage of the low literacy levels and the poor rate of the social and economic awareness of the people of this region who is ignorant of their rights and responsibilities in safeguarding the natural resources. This has paved the way for the undue exploitation of the land, minerals, water, and the other precious resource that the people have inherited from nature. Allotment of the land and the other resources are made in the guise of creating employment to the local youth; in practice, the number of jobs created can be counted on fingers and the devastation as a result of the indiscriminate mining and industrialization can be seen as air, water soil and the environmental pollution. There must be a hidden agenda in establishing majority pharmaceutical companies in this region; these companies are notorious for flushing the untreated water and air filled with arsenic and toxic waste into the rivers, streams, air and atmosphere while minting huge money for the management. The rivers, oceans and the other water bodies available here are polluted as a result of their indiscriminate emissions; harmful disposables are littered on our soils, without considering the ill-effects it might cause to the flora, fauna and the micro biota that may turn our soil very fertile. The minute dust pumped out of the thermal and nuclear power plants are harmful with radioactive dust that may cause lungs or respiratory diseases, including cancer. The negative impact of the industrialization is massive in creating irreparable damage to the physical and mental health of the people of this region. This needs a critical evaluation and public debate. The industries must be socially responsible while handling the disposable wastes and the government has a major role in regulating these industries by taking stern steps as penalties, imprisonment and serious punishments as environmental pollution is a serious offense. Industrial permissions should be evaluated periodically and the harmful emitters must be seized for ever as we are already paying huge penalties for these violations to the environment as El Nino and La Nina.
The district of Srikakulam is known for its vast and unexploited mineral resources.A comprehensive documentation and careful exploration of these resources must be taken up to generate employment to the people of this region while taking steps to preserve the environment. Ranasthalam mandal of the Srikakulam district, for example, is known for eco-friendly coconut farming. It is desirable to curtail any further expansion of the polluting pharmaceutical companies to promote the coconut processing and allied industries that are known for generating sustainable income for the native population.
With historically significant ancient Hindu and Buddhist places like Arasavalli, Srikurmam, Srimukhalingam, Shalihundam, and innumerable other Buddhist monuments, Srikakulam could be an ideal district for the promotion of ‘spiritual tourism’. The government should take measures to improve the basic amenities by building local infrastructure, to generate employment opportunities to the local youth, apart from generating revenue for the state government..
Srikakulam district is also known for large scale plantations, and commercial corps. It is known for expeort quality Jack fruit, Pineapple, coconut, Banana and Cashewnut. There are however no processing units that could process these raw materials as finished products for consumption here On establishing such processing units on a priority basis, local workforce can be employed effectively. The existing cashew processing units are plagued with unhygienic working conditions, contributing to pollution and skin allergies to its workers. There is an immediate need to establish Cashew Development Board in this region, with an independent status equal to special economic council, for promoting cashew exports and for the economic empowerment of the workforce dependent on this industry for ages. Employees of the cashew nut processing units are worst hit due to the pollution emanating from it. They should be given health and pension benefits at par with the employees of the organized sector. Establishment of cashew and coconut research centers here would go a long way in promoting the quality and the quantity of agrobased products of the Srikakulam district.
Andhra Pradesh is blessed with the second largest coastal region in the entire country, next only to the state of Gujarat and it is a boon for the development of the Northern Andhra districts. Although rare varieties of quality fisheries is available here, cold storage plants are absent in preserving them to meet the domestic as well as export markets. Entrepreneurs must be motivated with special incentives to establish such plants to strengthen the economic well being of the fishing communities. The coastal region of Srikakulam is a home for unique and a rare variety of seaweed known popularly as ‘Single cell protein’. By establishing food processing centers, this can be processed to produce nutraceuticals, which can be used as food supplements. Timely completion of the Bavanapaadu harbor, and a salt processing unit at ‘Naupadaa’ would contribute to the economic development of this region.
When the entire world is rushing to procure gold, Srikakulam is known for its quality brass metal that is used extensively in the households as gifts, utensils, and other utilities. ‘Budithi’ is a village in Saravakota mandal of the Srikakulam district with a reputation for quality brass metal. Brass utensils, artifacts and souvenirs that can be promoted through exhibitions and cultural festivals can be manufactured here.
Nasannapet and Polaki are serving as census towns and the Mandal head quarters in the Srikakulum district are also known for sugarcane crops. The high quality sugarcane from these regions are sent to distant factories for processing. Farmers have to take enormous hardships in taking their farm products to the industry. Instead, establishing a cane processing unit would lead to the economic empowerment of these two regions. The government of Andhra Pradesh has offered incentives for the rejuvenation of ‘’Tummapala Sugar factory at Anakaapalli. A similar generosity should be there in re-establishing the sugar factory in Srikakulam district at ‘Amadaalavalasa’.
Back to roots is a popular idiom that always reminds us about our origin and lures us not to give-up our originality; be it fashion or the lifestyle, it keeps rotating and the fashion followed in the yesteryears is gathering strength today in the form of cotton and Khaddar fabric as they are comfortable, healthy and eco-friendly compared to the synthetic cloths. ‘Ponduru’ is a place in the Srikakulam district, known for its internationally reputed cotton and khaddar products. Establishing handloom and power loom khadi units with sufficient marketing facilities for their promotion could not only preserve the reputation of the Khadi and cotton fabric of this region but also strengthens the economic independence of cotton farmers and weavers.
Rice is the major crop of the Srikakulam and it is being cultivated in vast areas within this district. Food processing units could promote viable and nutritious food products. At a time when the entire world is denouncing the plastic usage, establishing eco-friendly jute bag manufacturing unit at Rajam in this district, may help in the rejuvenation of jute mills that were shut due to their inability to beat the competition from the plastic. The government should take the lead in the re-establishment of the jute mills by announcing incentives and economic support so that families that were traditionally depending on jute mills can rest assured. This gesture would also promote jute products in its variety of forms, including jute bags, fabric and packing materials.
People of Paalakonda, Bhamini, Seethampeta have been traditionally making their living based on the products procured from the forest regions. They are not however integrated with the modern marketing and distribution facilities. This region is also known for the best quality wild custard apples and pineapples. However, the tribal that procure these products are at the mercy of the middlemen for selling their products. This can be averted by encouraging the direct marketing of these products. One way of promoting these naturally procured products is branding them to meet the national and the international market needs. Products procured from the ‘Seetampet’ agency area can be promoted as organic products, as the entire world is tired of the crops produced following inorganic farming techniques.
Jaami and Ramabadrapuram of the Vijayanagaram district are known for vegetable gardens and forest-based products and they are perishing in the absence of suitable storage facilities. By constructing cold storage plants it is possible to promote vegetable exports from this region. The Vijayarama cooperative Sugar factory at S. Kota Mandal of Vijayanagaram district needs to be modernized to enhance its potentialities. Formed on the principles of the cooperative sector, the factory currently holds 20, 000 farmers as its members and have already pooled Rs. 5 crore for this purpose. However, the modernization process did not start till date. The Vijayanagaram district as a whole is known for agro and farm based products; given the basic infrastructure and financial backup, these products can be exported directly to generate foreign revenue. The Mango jelly industry centered in and around the Jaami region has tremendous potentiality and demand in the country. Their status must be upgraded to the level of food industries, to expand the market in other parts of the country.
As many as 10 thousand workers have lost employment due to the closure of 5 Jute mills and textile companies in the kottavalasa mandal of the district need to be rejuvenated immediately. 5 thousand families have lost their bread and butter due to the closure of Ferro Alloy plant at kottavalasa due to lack power supply need alternative employment sources. For the past 25 years, the 2500 acre land procured for the Jindal Company to start an aluminum factory could not see the light of the day in the absence of aluminum reserves here. Government should initiate steps to revise this decision and the land lying idly for more than two decades must be used effectively for the employment generation in the state.
Except the Vishakhapatnam urban, the entire Visakhapatnam district is lagging behind in the industrial development. Flower and vegetable gardens in the Anadapuram mandal should be encouraged to nurture local employment; marketing and the distributional channels for the farm as well as the forest based products should be strengthened to turn gardening as a profitable source of living through special economic councils. The pharmaceutical companies operating in and around Bhimunipatnam should take steps to curb pollution, while prioritizing the job creation for the local public. Steps must be initiated to build the basic infrastructure to promote Bhimili beach as’ national tourist destination’. The historical prominence of the Bhimili can be restored by building a shipping harbor here. The ancient historical sites in Bhimili, including Sri Kunti Mada Swamy temple, Anatha Padhmanabha Swami temple, Venugopala Swami temple, and the ‘Victory tower built by the great Indian emperor Sri Krishna Devaraya at Potnur should be promoted as an integrated tourism package to woo the national and the international tourists. 10 thousand families have lost their employment due to the closure of the Jute mill at Chittivalasa. Steps must be taken either to renovate the same or to create alternative employment opportunities for these families. The Pharma city established in the Pendurthi area must take steps to curtail pollution in the region while creating alternative jobs to the farmers that have lost their farm lands for building the Pharma city. Similarly, 10 thousand acer land beloning to the Simhachala Devastanam remained unresolved for the past several decades need to be regularized. Although the Government Order (GO No 508) could resolve the land disputes of 5 thousand acer land, the rest of the land where the small and middle income families brought homes from the realotors awaits clearance. The cashewnut industry at Raavi Kamatam need to be modernized and efforts must be initiated to safeguard the health interests of the workforce in this sector.
Bauxite mining in the Anatagiri Hills of the district should be banned completely to ensure the safety and security of the tribal population here. Tourism promotion could be the best alternative to promote employment for the people of this region. Creating basic and minimum infrastructure to promote wooden toys of Araku Mandal would go a long way in promoting entrepreneurial zeal among the local population. Araku should be recognized as a tourist destination with national status and the best variety coffee available here should be promoted internationally. By establishing cottage industries, the horticulture products of Kottavalasa, and the forest based products available across the Vishakahapatnam district should be procured and processed as finished products to meet the market demands. Encroachments and illegal occupations of the fresth water reserve at Kondakarla Ava in the Ankapalli mandal of this district should be initiated to restore its significance as an important tourist destination in the state. Measures to revive the sugarcane factory at Tummapala and profitable market for the gaggery farmers of Anakapalli are highly appreciated.
As of 2016 Srikakulam per capita stood at Rs. 55,000, the least in Andhra Pradesh districts and Vizianagaram is Rs. 62,000 and Visakhapatnam is Rs. 1,20000. The government of India announced Rs. 1000 crore economic package for the promotion of UttaraAndhra districts during the state bifurcation in the year 2014 have not been implemented so far. The central government should enhance this package to Rs. 25000 crore under Public Private Partnership (PPP) model agricultural, food and marine industrial corridor development. Along with the support from service sector, UttaraAndhra per capita can be increased three times within a decade. This gesture could immediately stall the labor migration.
Completion of fishing harbors at Baavanapaadu, Kalingapatnam, and Bhimunipatnam could not only promote fisheries industry here due to enhanced water levels, but also generate employment to the fishing community. The sugarcane processing units at Tandava, Govaada, Yetikoppaka, Tummapaala, Bheemasinghi, and Aamudaalavalasa are eagerly watining for the modernization to be initiated at the earliest ‘ Along with the sugarcane processing units, the jute mills of the northern AP districts must be rejuvenated to retain their reputation as employment generators.
The jute industries of this region have been closed and remained shut for years need to be revived with enough incentives; otherwise, measures must be taken to create alternative job opportunities for the families that have lost livelihood as a result of the closure of the jute mills in this region.
Keeping the party ideologies and cadre, the people’s representatives of this region should unite to pressurize the central government for the release of the special economic package to build healthy and progressive Northern AP districts. The leaders representing this region at the central and the state should take the first step in this direction to lead the people’s movement for the promotion of pollution free, healthy industries to create employment opportunities for the people of this region with an immediate effect.