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Uttarandhra package for inclusive development

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Uttarandhra package for inclusive development, K S Chalam, Justice SriKrishnaCommittee. Several Government and Development personnel consider...

The division of the state as Telangana and the residual as Seemandhra on the basis of the Fifth Recommendation of Justice SriKrishnaCommittee is almost forgotten. But the people of Uttarandhra recall that the report has mentioned, “On many indicators - education, per capita consumption, and especially on maternal and child health, north coastal Andhra districts are the most deprived. According to people in these districts, the rural and tribal areas have been neglected in matters of health facilities and numerous tribals die every year due to malaria, diarrhoea and other such diseases in Vishakhapatnam, Srikakulam and Vizianagaram agency areas. North coastal Andhra has represented that it be considered as a separate region and be given a special development package.” (Chapt-4). It has further noted that “there is a demand from some sections that the northern coastal region of Andhra Pradesh is different from the coastal Andhra Pradesh region and requires a special treatment where irrigation requirements are concerned. This region has the districts of Visakhapatnam, Vizianagaram and Srikakulam.”(Chapt-7)

It is acknowledged that the columnist and his friends have been persistently arguing that North Andhra, the most neglected region is different from developed Andhra. Their plea that the region deserves special treatment is now vindicated with the mention of special package under 46 (3) of the Act. However, it is very difficult to design a strategy of development keeping the unique socio-economic and distinct ecological conditions of the region. We cannot build economiespurely on past glory and myths. Further, Visakhapatnam particularly its tribal belt is identified as one of the most backwards in the country. This seems to be man-made as the perennial resources of the region are not productively used for their development. The locals therefore argue that they need a system of quotaat least for aperiod of 20 years if not more (apart from 1/70). This could be considered as a strategy to bring them on par with others as an instrument of inclusion. Now Article 371 D is retained in the Reorganisation Act to protect the locals, the term could be proactively defined as those whose parents are natives of this region; otherwise the benefits will again go to others.

As far as the economic growth measured in SDP from the three districts is concerned, it has remained one of the backward regions in the state. The per capita SDP in the state is Rs 60703 in 2010-11. Srikakulam district with Rs 39,293 followed by Vizianagaram’s Rs 46,719 are the lowest,though Visakhapatnam due to industrialisation of the city contributes Rs 88,100 per capita.

Uttarandhra is a typical socio-economic conglomeration not found elsewhere as the people here belong to the unusual backward classes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes, nearly 85 per cent. They need special protection from the rude competition from the developed regions. Further, representation of the locals in the dominant political parties is marginal and outsiders (settlers) who are not very enlightened and broad-minded about the local issues have in the recent past started representing the region at state and union governments. As a result, the region beyond North of Bheemunipatnam is left without any development, except devastation.

The forest and unused land coverage in the three districts is about 55 per cent, and the tribal population was 15 per cent of the combined state. If the socio-demographic parameters of NA with the highest out-migration from the plains, including the fishermen of the coast are deliberated, majority are found devastated. It is curious to note that development initiatives in the city of Visakhapatnam have further marginalised the locals and forced them to out-migrate. This is a unique situation where creation of additional privileges for the region is appropriated by others due to their advanced skills and manipulative talent, displacing the locals over again. In fact, the problems of North Andhra are amplified only after the advent of liberalisation and marginalisation of public sector. It is reported that 1.5 million people are migrated to Hyderabad occupying semiskilled and casual jobs. They have become rootless, could be connected to their soil through inclusive policies of the package.

The retrograde experienceof development in North Andhra with swelling Visakhapatnam city does convey a message that it should be regulated now by the state. It is suggested that, if the lands in cities and metros are transferred to State (as in China) and access to locals are given first priority (as they were earlier public or state properties); half the problem could be resolved. This would also give protection to public/private properties from mafia control and the clamor for urban life might soften. Further, the notion of property has undergone a change. One can live anywhere in the World and own property in the city and rural areas displacing the natives.This is reported to have already taken place. Therefore, stringent state regulations should be designed as per need and local resources to protect the local interests without much anxiety. This would also enable decentralisation of administration and infrastructure to locate IIT, IIM, NSRC, Central University, etc in Vizag as it has by now created adequate academic environments.

Several Government and Development personnel consider Visakhapatnam city as North Andhra, may be the northern border of Andhra. But, we have two and half districts beyond it with 400 km striking coast. It has potential with mineral and natural resources to develop both within and in the hinterland of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Odisha. They would provide inputs for expansion of emerging manufacturing units .This is the region of ancient Madhya Kalinga with Buddhist monasteries, religious places and beautiful beaches, caves, etc. The unique setting of Visakhapatnam city should be developed as Educational and Tourist hub to attract South East Asians as most of them are Buddhists and would love to halt here. Singapore, Bangkok, Kuala Lumpur, etc., are few hours around. The entire region has small ports, jetties and other locations that were once flourishing trade centers, now deserted. They can be re-designed both for shipping and for tourist purposes. Keeping the hinterland and its natural resources, Agro-based industries, ICT and other MSME enterprises should be initiated with appropriate infrastructure to attract FDIs from the East. The Polavaram left canal should be connected to Bahuda to provide industrial water while the local resources would be spared for Agriculture, Floriculture, fisheries, poultry etc.

The special package for backward region and the concessions for the new state should provide generous resources to create employment opportunities not only to engage the local youth, but also to offer prospects to the sons of the soil who have moved out. This would definitely create an atmosphere of inclusion not only with the developed regions but also outside the world, as a domain of destiny to regain its splendor.

chalamks@hotmail.com

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