City on the move

Print edition : June 30, 2006

A PANORAMIC VIEW of Visakhapatnam city. - K.R. DEEPAK

Visakhapatnam, with abundant resources at its disposal, is poised for a quantum leap in industrial development.

VISAKHAPATNAM has always enjoyed a pre-eminent position in north coastal Andhra Pradesh. Even before the reorganisation of States on linguistic lines in the 1950s, it served as a nucleus to the region, covering a vast area, including Ganjam district (now in Orissa), in the composite Madras Presidency.

With abundant natural resources, a port with the largest cargo handling fleet and a pro-development attitude of its people, it was but natural for the "Gateway of the East" to become a core industrial area. Vizag, as it is popularly known, has always been a prosperous, growing and forward-looking city. Prominent institutions such as the Hindustan Shipyard, Andhra University with a pool of engineering talent, the headquarters of the Eastern Naval Command, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited and the state-of-the-art Vizag Steel plant are located here.

Vizag's residents have always risen as one man to meet the challenges of its development. None can forget the electrifying slogan Visakha Vukku, Andhrula Hakku (a steel plant here is our right) led by one of the great sons of the soil, Tenneti Viswanadham.

From a fishing village, it has come a long way to become a vibrant industrial city. A long coastline and the Eastern Ghats almost running parallel to it form a striking landscape which makes the city a preferred tourist destination. With the State government according priority to the development of the city as a second-tier Information Technology (IT) hub and industry leaders responding positively, Vizag is attracting software units and professionals.

In 2005, the Andhra Pradesh government upgraded the Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation to Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) by merging with it the Gajuwaka Municipality and 32 gram panchayats. Its area of jurisdiction has expanded from a mere 111 sq km, to 550 sq km encompassing sprawling suburbs. The population swelled from 9.28 lakhs (2001 Census) to around 15 lakhs. The municipal authorities are seeking to upgrade facilities under the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), which was launched by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in 2005.

"Your city must become a great port city; a great industrial city; a great knowledge city. You have all the resources to modernise Visakhapatnam. From here to Kakinada and to Srikakulam, for 200 miles, you can develop this entire area as a centre of new business. Visakhapatnam must become the Jewel of the Coromandel Coast," he said, while inaugurating the mission.

A LONG COASTLINE and the Eastern Ghats make Vizag a preferred tourist destination.-K.R. DEEPAK

The Prime Minister also launched an ambitious expansion plan of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant with an outlay of Rs.8,600 crores. Describing Visakhapatnam as one of the potential locations for setting up special economic regions, the Prime Minister promised all support to the State government in its efforts to attract $10 billion as investment. Visakhapatnam Airport's new terminal is expected to be completed at a cost of Rs.90 crores by the end of next year. The Centre has promised to consider any proposal to create a Mass Rapid Transport System.

Visakhapatnam is perhaps the first city in the country to implement e-governance and citizen-friendly initiatives. Through its `Saukaryam' programme launched in 2000, it offered 21 online services to people. Now they can opt for online payment of property tax and water tax, trade licence fees and shop rents. Through the 15 e-seva centres introduced by the State government online sanction of building plans is also being implemented.

The city corporation has won several awards. Among them are the Best Website award given by the National Institute of Urban Affairs in 2001-02, for the Best IT Usage award given by Computer Society of India in 2001-02 and Cyber City award under the "New Technologies for Good Urban Governance in 2001-02" category.

The corporation has embarked on a participatory sanitation programme involving residents' associations. With contribution from each household, separated garbage is collected by "street beautifiers" in vehicles provided by the corporation.

The corporation also won a CRISIL award in 2005 for community participation in sanitation for the work done in Muralinagar. Development of parks and sporting facilities has also been taken up in several parts of the city with the help of residents' associations.

A letter from the Editor


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