Confident strides

Print edition : July 16, 2010

The Krishnapatnam port has come as a boon to the district's development.-K.V. KURMANATH

NELLORE'S nomenclature has had an interesting transition. Once known as Vikrama Simhapuri, the district got its name from the Tamil word nell' meaning rice since paddy cultivation is the main occupation in the district. In 2008, it honoured its most famous son, the freedom fighter Potti Sriramulu by giving his name to the district and calling it Sri Potti Sriramulu Nellore.

Right from the 6th century, the region had a prominent place in history with the Satavahanas, the Pallavas, the Cholas, the Kakatiyas, the Chodas, and the Vijayanagara kings ruling over it.

Apart from agriculture, Nellore is now making rapid strides in the fields of industry, education, tourism, employment and science and technology. It has witnessed good development in the past few years thanks to the district administration's focus on these sectors as well as on irrigation and health.

Many entrepreneurs are eyeing Nellore to set up projects. Four special economic zones (SEZs) have come up in the district and this has created job opportunities for thousands of people.

The State government has a proposal to allot land for a rocket spare parts manufacturing unit at Sullurpet in the district.

About 70 per cent of the people in the district depend on agriculture. The total cultivable area for commercial, horticultural and vegetable crops is 3.40 lakh hectares. The main crops grown are paddy, sugarcane, groundnut, bajra, cotton and sunflower.

Nellore is one of the nine coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh. Its 169-km shoreline has about 93 fishermen habitations spread across 12 mandals. The Pulicat lake, the second biggest brackish water lake in the country, provides livelihood to 11,000 fishermen. The government provides assistance to fishermen's cooperative societies to improve fish potential in reservoirs, canals and tanks. Freshwater aqua culture has seen a boost. Prawn culture has taken up 30,000 ha.

Tourism

The district has good tourism potential. Its places of interest include the Udayagiri and Venkatagiri forts, the Somasila and Kandaleru dams, the Pulicat lake, and the Mypadu and Koduru beaches.

The Udayagiri fort, located at an altitude of 3,079 feet on the Udayagiri Hills, was built by the Vijayanagara kings in the 14th century. The hill is also known as Sanjeevani Hills as it has thick forests with medicinal plants. The district administration is making arrangements to celebrate in July the 500th anniversary of King Krishnadevaraya's coronation at Udayagiri town.

The government has taken up renovation of famous temples in the district at a cost of Rs.23 crore to promote heritage tourism. This would entail construction of arches in front of shrines, water tanks and parks, besides electrification and setting up of information centres at the temples.

The district is also popular for Venkatagiri silk sarees and handicrafts. The leather puppet craft is an age-old art of Andhra Pradesh. A few families who had migrated to the district from Maharashtra and settled in D.C. Palli a few decades ago make the puppets and perform with them too.

Tholu Bommalata', as the plays were known, was patronised by the Kakatiya and Telugu Choda kings. The plays were based on the Ramayana and the Mahabharata and were a popular source of entertainment in villages in those days.

The wooden cutlery pieces of Udayagiri are known for their intricate carvings. The craft is believed to have originated during the time of the Quli Qutub Shah dynasty. Spoons, forks, bowls, mats and hair clips are carved out of wood.

Education hub

Nellore has for long been a centre for quality education. It has many schools, professional colleges and arts and science colleges. The State government has invested huge sums of money in the district to develop educational infrastructure.

For one, it has sanctioned a university the Vikrama Simhapuri University in Nellore; the district administration has allotted land for the new university at Kakuturu village, near Nellore city. The Indian Institute of Travel and Tourism Management (IITTM), Gwalior, is setting up a tourism institute at Venkatachalam village in the district. Many state-of-the-art schools, from the nursery level to the higher secondary level, are coming up in the district.

The Rajiv Vidya Mission (RVM) under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) programme is taking measures to provide infrastructure in government primary and upper primary schools. Residential bridge schools and alternative schools have been set up for out-of-school children. Children in the six to 14 age group have been enrolled in schools through the badi bata' programme.

At an NREGA project site in Nellore district.-P.V. SIVAKUMAR

The RVM provides support, under the Education Guarantee Scheme, to madrassas recognised by the State government and the State Madrassa Board .

About 756 upper primary schools function in Nellore district under various managements. Of the 517 high schools in the district, 20 are run by the Municipal Corporation and nearly 300 by the zilla parishads. The district achieved 81 per cent pass in the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) examination for the academic year 2009-10.

On the initiative of District Collector K. Ramgopal, eye-screening camps were organised for children in all government schools in the district.

Irrigation

The Pennar and the Swarnamukhi are the two major rivers flowing through the district. The other rivers are the Pambaleru, the Kalangi, the Tsakkakaluva, the Royyalakaluva and the Venkatagiriyeru. Irrigation projects on these rivers have gone a long way in achieving a green revolution in the district.

About 32 per cent of the irrigated area/ayacut was covered by the Lower Pennar, 29 per cent by the Upputeru river, 11 per cent by the Swarnamukhi and 20 per cent by the Manneru and the Kalangi rivers.

The Somasila project, taken up across the Pennar at Somasila village of Anantasagaram mandal, is at an advanced stage of completion. The project is designed to serve an ayacut of 2.47 lakh acres and provide drinking water to the villages and also to Nellore and Kavali towns. The total ayacut developed so far is 1.56 lakh acres. Somasila, which receives water from Srisailam, also supplements the Kandaleru project, which serves Chennai city through the Telugu Ganga canal.

The Telugu Ganga Project in Nellore is intended to create an irrigation potential of 1.69 lakh acres, generate 9 MW power and provide drinking water to Nellore and Gudur towns. So far, the project has irrigated 1.38 lakh acres. Modernisation of the Pennar delta, the Kanupur canal and the Gandipalem projects were taken up under the Jalayagnam programme.

A total of 124 tanks had been taken up under the World Bank-sponsored AP Community-based Tank Management Project, said the Collector.

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