It’s Raining Sops

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Chandrababu Naidu’s promises never seem to end. Sample this: 13 airports, eight seaports, 14 smart cities, four IT hubs, four electronic parks, three industrial cities and three mega cities. It remains to be seen if this long list of promises will materialise or not 

Published: 07th September 2014 06:12 AM  |   Last Updated: 07th September 2014 06:12 AM   |  A+A-

A slew of promises have been made by the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh N Chandrababu Naidu two days ago when he announced Vijayawada as the new capital of the State. While many believe the announcements were an act of appeasement for those discomforted with the naming of the new capital, some see these as sincere efforts towards development of the truncated state. Only in the due course of time, one would be able to find out if AP will have 13 airports, eight seaports, 14 smart cities, four IT hubs, four electronic and hardware parks, three industrial cities and three mega cities as promised by its first Chief Minister.

On Seaports:

The government has announced development of Machilipatnam port in Krishna district apart from announcing ports at Bhavanapadu and Kalingapatnam in Srikakulam, Narsapur port in West Godavari, Ramayapatnam port in Prakasam, Dugarajapatnam port in Nellore and two other ports in Vizianagaram, East Godavari. Is this a viable option? Here is what experts think:

A Bala Kishan, professor in Geography, Centre for Indian Ocean Studies, Osmania University, Hyderabad.

The State is blessed with natural harbours. These can be developed into ports. Certain ports had been developed by the British but are in dire need of modernisation. However, every development involving construction and lots of commercial activity would lead to certain environmental pollution. What we need is green ports or ecologically-friendly ports. To achieve this, government’s strong and sincere will is required. PPP will be a viable option for development of ports since government has no money.

Satish Chenoy, director, Indian National Centre for O c e a n Informa t ion Services

Before going ahead with construction of ports, government should engage itself in proper scientific evaluation and studies to assess the impact on wave conditions, patterns, currents etc. Such changes could lead to imbalance and in turn leading to soil erosion and accretion. The technology and science is available but requires time consuming studies. As long as we do not pollute the waters, there is no risk to marine life. But, government needs to ensure pollution free development.

M Padmanabha Reddy, Forum for Good Governance

It is a welcome gesture and feasible. We have 1200 km of coastline and we have no major ports between Vizag and Chennai. We need to develop the east coast especially when we plan big industrial corridors. However, it is a time-consuming process that requires huge funds. At the same time, it is like aiming big without any backing up. With central assistance, we cannot do anything.

On airports:

The new state of AP have airports at Tirupati, Rajamundry, Visakhapatnam, Vijayawada and a yet to be operationalised airport at Kadapa. Despite this, the CM has announced seven more at Kuppam(Chittoor), Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Guntur, Ongole (Prakasham), Nellore, Kurnool, Tadepalligudem(West Godavari). For Anantapur, it is a repair, maintenance and overhaul hub of aircraft that is promised. Here is what experts feel:

C Ramachandraiah, professor at Centre for Economic and Social Studies

 Half of these are never going to materialise. All these towns do not even have the requisite air traffic. It is sheer waste of money. Government is trying to appease everyone by making promises. Let government first answer which private airline will operate services to these small towns. Even if the CM is serious about it, is nothing but waste of money. Has the aviation ministry headed by TDP’s own person studied the viability having airports in each district?

Amrik Singh, director, Rajiv Gandhi Aviation Academy, Hyderabad

Number of airports is not directly proportional to air traffic. Traffic is very lean at present but government has to offer a lot of consessions to bring the overhead costs of airliners down so that they would operate to smaller centres. On the whole, it looks like a decision looking at facilitating development. There are n number of parameters government will have to fulfill before these airports become reality.

VK Srinivasan, former bureaucrat, who has worked in the appraisal of budgets for major airports.

It would be far more economical and prudent to provide required facilities at Rajamundry, Kadapa airports, provide night landing facility in Renigunta (Tirupati) and modernise Gannavaram airport(Vijayawada). Rail connectivity in the state is very good and there is no need for each district to have an airport. The money could be utilised in procuring latest technology and equipment required.

On IT, Megacity, Smartcity:

 The new state has been promised with 10 smart cities at Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Guntur, Nellore, Prakasam, Anantapur, Kurnool, Kakinada, Rajamundry and Krishna; 4 Electronic and Hardware parks at Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Visakhapatnam, Ananthapur; 6 Industrial cities at Srikakulam, Vizianagaram, Donakonda, Ananthapur, Kurnool, Kadapa; 4 IT hubs at Visakhapatnam, Tirupati, Krishna and East Godavari; 2 Mega cities at Chittoor, Krishna etc. Here is what experts say:

Bipin Chandra, secretary, HySEA-Hyderabad Software Exporters Association (erstwhile ITsAP)

 Smart cities are more pragmatic for Naidu learning from earlier learnt lessons of segregated development at the cost of other regions. For this, the biggest challenge would be the deficit budget. However, if factors of production are available at economical costs, multinational companies would definitely come forward to invest. They only look at cost economics and international connectivity. Government needs to position itself and provide comfort levels to industry.

 Srinivas Ayyadevara, president, Hyderabad Management Association

 We are happy it is announced but only apprehensions revolve around finances. For building new capital, state does not have funds and even the centre is not going to give any. Again, it is going to be chaotic if all the large projects are taken up simultaneously. No viability study too is possible on such large projects. Why would an investor put in his money if infrastructural facilities are yet to be created.

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