Need for a balanced state development model
It is reported in the newspapers that in a recent cabinet meeting Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh directed for establishment of a financial district within Amravati the capital city
It is reported in the newspapers that in a recent cabinet meeting Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh directed for establishment of a financial district within Amravati the capital city. This of course is part of master plan for the Amaravati City which is divided into different zones- Education City, Administrative City, Financial city, Judicial City etc. But is this the right model for the state of Andhra Pradesh or we can think of a better model to achieve a faster and more balanced development of the state?
To explore this alternative model, one has to look at the strengths of different towns and regions within the state of Andhra Pradesh. The north coastal region consisting of Srikakulam Vizianagaram- Visakhapatnam districts , otherwise very backward, can boast of a cosmopolitan world class City Vizag.
It could have been much bigger and a much more vibrant city had the rulers of United Andhra Pradesh in those days concentrated on Vizag in addition to Hyderabad. In the last 50 years all development was concentrated in Hyderabad to the exclusion of all other growing cities in Andhra Pradesh for which the state of Andhra Pradesh is now paying a heavy price.
In spite of no focus being there from successive governments still on its own strength Vizag has emerged as an important financial commercial centre on the Coromandel coast. It has a huge hinterland and between Calcutta and Chennai can be positioned as an important port and commercial and financial centre.
To ignore the potential of this city and try to build a new financial district within Amaravati would just be suicidal for the new state of Andhra Pradesh. It would be better to focus on Vizag as a commercial financial centre as well as for information technology and it will have all the required advantages to attract investments in these sectors.
Any day it can boast of a better weather than Amaravati and has the advantage of a coastal cosmopolitan town. It would be better to drop the idea of a separate financial City within the capital city Amaravati and focus on Vizag as a commercial financial IT hub.
The central coastal region from Rajahmundry to Guntur is significant for its intensive agriculture. Perhaps no other region within the country including Punjab and Haryana is better endowed with intensive agriculture and highly enterprising and hardworking farmers.
The focus on this region should be on development of agriculture, agri-business and processing. Vijayawada for a long time was the transportation hub not only for Andhra Pradesh for the country as well. Guntur and Vijayawada have a tradition of thriving educational institutions located there. This region between Rajahmundry to Guntur can be developed as agricultural agri- processing transport and educational hub.
Rayalaseema region including Nellore has a big advantage of being hinterland for three major cities of Hyderabad, Bangalore and Chennai. This gives it a natural advantage of becoming the manufacturing hub provided provision of infrastructure in terms of water electricity is taken care of. Availability of land at a reasonable price is an advantage for this region.
In the south coastal Andhra Pradesh if Ramayapatnam port is completed along with Krishnapatnam it can be a trade and logistics hub. If Kalahasti- Nadikudi railway line can be completed early with the possible extension of the same right up to Warangal touching parts of Nalgonda and Warangal districts can further strengthen this area logistically.
Government of India is already planning a third railway line between Gudur and Vijayawada and beyond. The Government of Andhra Pradesh should actively pursue this in its own interest. This is not to say that other facilities cannot come up in any of these regions. It is only to point out the natural advantages certain regions have and a need to focus on these sectors in these areas.
This would lead to a balanced sustained development of the new state. If a mistake has been committed in terms of a centralised megacity it would be better to accept it and retrace steps and go for a more balanced regional development rather than pursue the same strategy which Sivaramakrishnan described as honeypot effect and very strongly advocated such a development strategy should be discouraged for this state in particular. (Writer is former Chief Secretary, Government of Andhra Pradesh)