On the fast track

Published : May 06, 2011 00:00 IST

The Rajamahal palace in the Chandragiri fort near Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. -

The Rajamahal palace in the Chandragiri fort near Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh. -

Chittoor district has an array of development projects that aim at providing world-class facilities.

THE name Chittoor' was derived from the word Chitrur', which in Tamil means a small town'. There is another interpretation among scholars. As chit' stands for knowledge' in Sanskrit, Chittoor' literally means the land of knowledge'.

Situated at the confluence of the States of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, the district has imbibed the Telugu, Tamil and Kannada cultures. In fact, the Telugu dialect spoken in Chittoor, Puttur and Satyavedu areas bears a heavy Tamil accent, while in Madanapalle, Palamaneru and Kuppam areas, it has a Kannada flavour.

Oriental studies

Vedic literature and oriental studies flourish in the district, with Tirupati, the abode of Lord Venkateswara, as the epicentre. Apart from the Dharmagiri Vedapatasala' and the S.V. Oriental College, Tirupati now has the Sri Venkateswara Vedic University, exclusively for Vedic studies. It was established with the objective of granting affiliation to the various Vedapatasalas, designing curriculum and coordinating the various levels of Vedic education.The district was once known to the outside world as the cradle of culture and spiritualism. Today, it is fast emerging as an industrial and commercial hub. Thanks to the efforts of the State and Central governments, the tail-end district, celebrating its centenary this year, has been on the fast track to development.

There are half a dozen major developmental works under way or in the pipeline. Significantly, many of them are coming up in and around Tirupati. One such is the Rs.6,000-crore electrical turbine manufacturing unit, a joint venture of the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) and Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL).

The foundation for the NTPC BHEL Power Projects Limited (NBPPL) was laid by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in September 2010. The 650-acre site at Mannavaram village, between Tirupati and Srikalahasti, was provided by the Andhra Pradesh government.

According to the State government, the plant is the second biggest public sector undertaking it has bagged in the past 25 years, after the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant (VSP). The project will have the capacity to produce 5,000 MW power-generation equipment and will be India's first integrated plant manufacturing turbines, generators and boilers. When completed in 2015, it will provide direct employment to 6,000 people and indirect employment to another 25,000.

Another major project in the pipeline is the development of Tirupati airport as an international one, not only to meet the needs of overseas pilgrims but to improve air connectivity. The project, to be executed by the Airports Authority of India (AAI), envisages extension of the runway to handle wide-bodied aircraft, installation of Instrument Landing System and other all-weather navigational systems, night-landing facility, spacious passenger and cargo terminals, trendy shopping malls, cafeterias and so on.

If it were not for the initial hiccups on whether the cost of the land to be acquired for the project should be borne by the AAI or the State, the work would have been in progress by now. The State government has now agreed to provide the required land free and take upon itself the responsibility of removing all the electrical and structural obstructions on the site.

Yet another project in the offing is the upgradation of Tirupati's railway station into a world-class facility' to meet the increasing pilgrim influx. The project is to be taken up on a public private participation (PPP) mode and envisages a total built-up area of 22 acres in five floors with lift/escalator facilities. The ground level will have service buildings and tracks; the first floor will have a parking area, waiting halls and waiting rooms; the second and third floors will have commercial areas, cafeteria and so on. The fourth and fifth floors will have retiring rooms, multiplexes and shopping malls.

Though both the Railway Ministry and the State government have agreed in principle to go ahead with the project, the lack of consensus among stakeholders on the project's location had delayed its execution. The local traders want it at the existing station itself but they have not been able to reach an agreement on this with the Railways, the State government and the Tirupati Tirumala Devasthanams (TTD).

The Tirupati Chamber of Commerce fears that locating the facility away from the city will affect business, which is pilgrim-centric. A task force, put in place by the government to look into the matter, is likely to come up with a mutually acceptable solution soon.

Another major stride the district has taken towards industrialisation is the Sri City' Special Economic Zone (SEZ). Located 55 km north of Chennai on the Tamil Nadu-Andhra Pradesh border, the SEZ is well connected by road and rail networks and has access to three seaports and two international airports. Sri City encompasses South India's largest private functional Multi-Product SEZ, a Domestic Tariff Zone (DTZ) and a Free Trade Warehousing Zone (FTWZ).

The SEZ is already home to over 45 international and Indian companies, including Alstom (France), Danieli (Italy), Kobelco (Japan), Lavazza (Italy), Amphenol (U.S.), Venture (Australia), BFG (Bahrain), Al-Reyami/ Rockworth (Dubai (UAE)-Thailand joint venture) and Tablets India, to name a few. In line with its goal of being India's first carbon-neutral zone, Sri City has adopted innovative green initiatives. All utilities are fuelled by solar energy generated at Sri City. Besides, 100 per cent recycling of waste water as well as extensive use of electric vehicles, solar streetlights and traffic control systems are in place.

In addition, country-specific enclaves have been specially created to offer specific and exclusive facilities to companies from those countries. Each enclave will have a gated community with native-style homes, food courts with native chefs, and translators.

CRPF Training Centre

Another Centrally sponsored scheme fast coming up in the district is the training centre for the Central Reserve Police Force at Fathegad near Kalikiri, 70 km northwest of Tirupati. Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, who represents the constituency, is personally monitoring the project for which 180 acres has already been provided. Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) personnel also are likely to be given training at the centre, which will have top-class facilities.

With inputs from A.D. Rangarajan
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