HYDERABAD: Recent announcement of Government of Andhra Pradesh to launch a focused approach to develop minor ports along the coast line is a welcome move. It is equally important to realise that urbanization, industrialization and sea ports development are synonymous. Carving out urban development authorities in the vicinity of existing and to-be developed ports based on “urban agglomeration” concept with sea and air ports as focused points would pave the way for faster industrial growth.
Preparation of Master plans for land space utilisation is a prelude for embarking on development of sea ports. This would not only help achieving regulated growth of industrialisation, but also warding off associated evils of congestion and excessive urbanisation. The perils of uncontrolled growth are staring examples in major ports like Mumbai, Kolkatta, Chennai and not be repeated any longer learning from the past constitution of Urban Development Authorities.
Keeping in view the vast industrial potential along the coast, the huge density of population of towns, abutting the sea-front, it is imperative that advance steps are taken to regulate land use in the region and to plan urban development in a methodical manner. It is desirable to declare the developed area under Section 13(1) of the A.P Urban (Area development) Act 1975 encompassing a couple of municipal towns/corporations and villages, with port as a focal point. This would help achieving regulated growth of urbanisation/ industrialisation and modernisation in the region.
Precisely, with this idea in mind ‘Godavari Urban Development Authority’ (GUDA) was proposed in 1994 as part of Kakinada port upgradation plans. This authority would function as an autonomous body on the lines of other UDAs in the state with power to regulate land use, and to acquire, develop, and dispose of urban property besides preparing master plans keeping in view long term local felt needs including urban housing/transport linked with natural resources available and consumption of ecology upholding quality of life.This steps brooks no delay and priority be accorded to constitute UDAs in and around Sea/Air ports existing and to be developed.
The coastal region is fast emerging as an important industrial corridor. The vast agricultural surplus, perennial supply of fresh water, the natural port bays, the new field of oil and natural gas in the surroundings, the highly productive and disciplined work force/labour and the extremely enterprising population have all been responsible to make the region much more prosperous than what it is today.
Along the lines of UDAs, industrial zoning of the area can be thought of with three zones:
Zone I: Area close to the sea-port can be termed as port zone. No further industries are encouraged in this zone unless they are of national importance and are necessarily dependent on the sea front in terms of their activity.
Zone II: This zone comprises of area of a distance of 10 to 25 km radius from the port zone, required infrastructural facilities for industries such as water and electricity including natural gas pipe line and thermal power stations may be preferred in this zone. Public-Private Participation can be encouraged to develop.
Zone III: Vast chunks of vacant lands mostly in upland areas need to be identified and acquired by UDAs as was proposed along Asian Development Bank road linking Rajahmundry to Kakinada port and developed into an industrial hub.
Evolving a statutory mechanism to meet the requirement of land and road-related infrastructure is the crux and stupendous task to the new dispensation in view of the stringent land acquisition laws in force at present.
To diversify the port activity from conventional cargo handling, the ship breaking activity along the coast helps creating enormous employment potential for locals. Rerolling mills in the downstream get lease of life. Recent hydrographic and marine studies revealed that Vadarevu minor port is best suited for ship breaking. Ship repairing facilities on the east coast are remote. The report of the Director General of Shipping emphasises the need to establish dry dock (floating) besides creating ship repairing facilities.
Notwithstanding the historical perspective, using inland water ways was mainly conceived as an alternative cost-effective mode of transport to promote trade.
Initiative taken by the port department in 1995 to realize this idea utilizing Buckingham Canal route resulted in a small way revival of long forgotten tradition. In 1995, a humble beginning was made to revive rice bran cargo from Tadepalligudem to Kakinada port via Vijjeswaram, Kotham, and Kovvur lakes alongside Godavari canal. It was 22 hours journey sailing a distance of 120 km, operationally feasible to use inland water ways.
An independent authority namely Inland Waterways Authority under the control of Union Ministry of Surface Transport promotes water ways by providing technical know-how and required finances. It is for the private initiative to tap this opportunity. Establishing proper linkages between inland waterways and coastal shipping is going to be a leap forward to promote trade.
(The Author is formerly Director of State Ports, Kakinada)