Ramayapatnam in Prakasam district has more or less been finalised as the site for the second major port in the state.
An official announcement is expected any time in this month. Though two other sites were short-listed for the prestigious project, Ramayapatnam was found to be the most viable for constructing a port.
If the coastal village becomes the final selection, then it will become the second major port, after the one in Visakhapatnam, along the 996 km coastline of the state.
The central governmentfunded project will not only construct a harbour, with six berths to handle the cargo, but also have ship building and breaking facilities and will be a fishing harbour.
Exports of granite and tobaccos from Prakasam district is likely to witness a remarkable increase after the port is constructed.
According to highly placed sources, in the first phase of the project, Rs 10,000 crore will be invested of which Rs 5,000 crore will be sanctioned for infrastructure building. The construction of the port is likely to provide direct and indirect employment opportunities to thousands.
Further, there will be a need for creation of several auxiliary industrial units to support such a massive project, which will likely provide more employment to the people of the hinterlands of Prakasam district.
When the central government announced its maritime agenda for the present decade (2010-20), the state government had approached with its proposal for setting up of another major port in the state.
Subsequently a high-level central committee of experts were sent to the state, to study the three shortlisted sites, in last six months.
According to sources, Nakkapalli in Visakhapatnam district and Duggirajapatnam in Nellore district, the other two shortlisted sites, were found not viable for two reasons. Both the sites are in close proximity to security establishments.
The Eastern Naval Command in Visakhapatnam is only 70km away from Nakkapalli. Duggirajapatnam in Nellore is close to the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota. Also, Visakhapatnam and Nellore districts already have a major port and developing port (Krishnapatnam) respectively.
Further, in case of Duggirajapatnam, environmental concerns were raised as it is the starting point of Pulicat Lake. Environmental organisations voiced concerns that the setting up of a major port will devastate the ecology of the second largest lagoon of the country.
So, Ramayapatnam was found to be the most suitable for the project. Meanwhile, officials of Prakasam districts have already set the ball in motion for acquiring the required 5000 acres of land.
Apart from government land, some forest land and about 1200 acres of private lands will be needed for the project. According to official sources, about 2,200 people are likely to get displaced from as many as eight hamlets, including five fishing ones, in Ramayapatnam panchayat in Ulavapadu mandal and Ravuru and Salipeta panchayats.
A proposal of Rs 270 crore for compensating the displaced and another Rs 150 crore for Relief and Rehabilitation (R&R) has been forwarded to the government. Officials expect no trouble in acquiring forest land, which had been a major obstacle in several other projects. It is being reasoned that the shrub forest in the region has no wildlife or trees with much economic or ecological value.