VISAKHAPATNAM / RAJAHMUNDRY: Reaction in North Coastal Andhra to the State Government’s announcement of the capital city in Vijayawada area was muted. People, particularly in Visakhapatnam, appeared neither elated nor dejected but were unanimous in their demand for ‘decentralised development’ — something that Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu has promised.
“Visakhapatnam is the largest city in the State. Capital or not, the city is far ahead of other cities in the State and it would take at least 10-20 years for other cities to catch up. Nearly `1 lakh crore investments have been committed to Vizag by various industries/companies and we need the government to facilitate development,” said Naresh Kumar, vice-president of the Visakhapatnam Development Council and also Rushikonda IT Park Association.
Members of the medical fraternity also found nothing wrong in making Vijayawada the capital. The Indian Medical Association Visakhapatnam chapter secretary Dr PA Ramani said the State government should not repeat the mistake of focusing on the development of one place, in this case Vijayawada. “The Chief Minister said the capital would be near Vijayawada city and thus, basic facilities like connectivity are ensured. But development should be divided equally,” she felt.
The Visakhapatnam Bar Association president J Pridhvi Raj too echoed the same views. “Location of the capital is the government’s prerogative and none is opposing it. But the head-offices of important institutions should be located in different cities. The State government should take into consideration the recommendations of the Sivaramakrishnan Committee over decentralisation of administration. The High Court should be established in Visakhapatnam,” he demanded. However, student leaders opposed the government’s decision and demanded that the decision be reconsidered. “North Coastal Andhra is a backward region and Vizag has potential to be the capital. But the state government is working at the behest of capitalists and power mongers,” alleged Lagudu Govind of the Uttarandhra Development Forum. Andhra University students gave a bandh call for all educational institutions in North Coastal Andhra on Friday.
In East Godavari district, Dr PVB Sanjeeva Rao of SKVT College welcomed the decision and felt that as a fast growing city and its central location, Vijayawada has great potential to grow further. “But there is a need to decentralise development in all the 13 districts of Andhra Pradesh. It is the duty of the government to provide safety to the people in the capital and also develop its nearby areas,” he added.
Echoeing his views, Human Rights Forum East Godavari district president and noted lawyer Muppalla Subba Rao said the government should consider demands like High Court benches and medical/educational institutions in different districts and distribute them evenly to ensure all-round development. He also wanted the government to improve connectivity between cities.