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Friday, August 23, 2013


Andhra Charter
Sai Papineni


‘Telangana is inevitable’, they say.
The people of Andhra are being served one more historical injustice.
Sixty years ago, when they fought for a separate Telugu State, they were deprived of the capital, Madras, because it was considered a common asset of all South Indians, in spite of a majority of Telugu speakers in that city. 
The new state thus formed embraced its brethren, liberated from the clutches of Nizam and adopted Hyderabad as its own. For 56 years it had never occurred to its people that one day they would be deprived of it too. They had invested their sweat and blood and developed Hyderabad into a land of milk and honey. 
As an example, let me illustrate an industry that is familiar to all and what had happened with it. Vijaya, Vauhini, Prasad, Bharani, Suresh aren’t just names. They belonged to the Telugu people and they made Madras the largest producer of celluloid art. It had taken 30 long years for the industry to move to Hyderabad. The trauma of this exodus had come to pass. Now the Tollywood is well settled in its new home thanks only to the extraordinary benefits and concessions offered by successive governments. 
Today, Hyderabad is not only Tollywood, but a hub of a multitude of industries – Pharma, Medical, IT, Infra, Education to name a few – creating lakhs of jobs and livelihoods directly and through ancillary economy. 
Who are the investors? People of Andhra, trusting enough to think Hyderabad is their own.

Today, they are told that …
Hyderabad doesn’t belong to them.
They don’t belong there.

Immediate Challenges  
Employment Generation and Balanced Growth

Due to the legacy of an education system inherited from the Madras Presidency, today, Andhra region produces one of the largest crops of human talent. The industrial hub called Hyderabad provided them opportunity.

Now, where will they go?
How many generations must suffer before Andhra can provide careers and livelihoods?
Having millions of frustrated young people is a sure formula for disaster. How do we thwart that?  
How do we create a dynamic economy that can absorb this talent, now - not after ten years, or in some distant future?
Is the so called “Lakhs of Crores Package” to build a capital that the politicians are salivating on, the real solution?
Are we contemplating the same historic blunder of developing just one city sacrificing balanced growth?
Andhra Charter – The Solution

It may sound like the strangled cry of a wronged wife for alimony – after the divorce is formalized – with the future of her children at stake. I hope the powers that be have a heart to listen.

These are not demands, but the bare essentials to see that her children are fed.
Let me enumerate them and also explain simply – without the burden of lies, damned lies and statistics – why those are necessary.
New Industries:  Ask any industrialist. The land prices in Andhra are astronomically high making it unviable to start any new industry. If the situation persists, there won’t be any start ups until the economy collapses so completely. Then how does one attract new start ups to Andhra? What are the best incentives that can be offered to compensate the high start up cost?

1. Central Tax Holiday 

The fledgling state can ill afford foregoing revenues. The burden of sin must be carried by the central government. A 30 year central tax holiday on all industrial investments in Andhra – Excise and Other Central Taxes – can quickly draw the capital to Andhra.

2. Infrastructure 

A minimum of 5 Special Economical Zones – 3 in Coastal Belt and 2 in the Interior – with necessary infrastructure to be built under BOT. Land must be provided from surplus government land identified and notified avoiding acquisition related hurdles. 

Railways: Indian Railways had always been a major source of employment and enterprise. Various regions of Andhra will be dependent on zones headquartered in Chennai, Hubli, Bhubaneswar and now Secunderabad. Vijayawada had always been a major rail hub and has all the land and infrastructure to be the zonal headquarters. 

3. Separate Railway Zone at Vijayawada  

With Guntakal, Waltair, Renigunta and Gudur divisions included, this is not only viable but also ideal for the growth of communications within the state.

Opportunity for higher education to make the youth of Andhra compete with the best in the country and also to create a qualified pool of resource for the growth process is needed. In spite of successive HRD ministers, Andhra is yet to receive an IIM or IIT. Today a large number of students from Andhra are travelling outside the state for premium education.

4. IIT at Anantapur  

Will not only be a beacon of hope to the students from the dry and backward regions of Rayalaseema, but its proximity to the cities like Bangalore and Hyderabad will provide the necessary market for talent.

4. IIM at Visakhapatnam

Will provide not only the environment and industry base for sustained managerial resource necessary for growth.

Transport and Communication: Historically, the interior parts of Andhra trailed far behind the coastal plains – this is not only true of Rayalaseema region but the western taluks of the coastal districts – due to non-availability of irrigation and communication systems that are a legacy of the British Raj with only significant exception being the ayacut of Nagarjuna Sagar and Nadikudi railway line. Nalamalai range of mountains stands as a wall between the interior and the coast. A comprehensive plan needs to address this issue.

6. Parallel National Highway 

Between Nayudupet and Vijayawada linking Kalahasti, Venkatagiri, Badvel, Kanigiri, Markapur, Vinukonda with a parallel bridge across Krishna near Sattenapalle / Amaravati belt. The coastal highway between Ongole and Kattipudi to be developed as a six-lane dual carriage way.

7. A Rail-Road Nalamala Corridor  

Between the capital region and Guntakal with a dual carriageway and a double-line electrified railway is essential for unifying the coastal and interior Andhra. All environmental clearances must precede the separation process.  

8. Another Major Port  

On the longest coastline between Visakhapatnam and Chennai to cater the hinterland is essential to sustain the envisaged growth in Andhra. The distance between Visakhapatnam and Chennai is close to a thousand kilometers. Nowhere in the Indian peninsula does one find such a long distance between two major ports. Currently the minor ports of Kakinada and Krishnapatam are too close to the existing major ports and a site near Nizampatnam is ideal for a modern port with a container terminal.

Finally, the capital: It is needless to say the availability of surplus government land is going to be the singular criterion for its selection. If it is the 16 km wide stretch of land between the railway line and the beach near Ongole, let it be. Probably, it will be reasonably more acceptable to Rayalaseema as it forms a part of the Greater Rayalaseema being touted by some politicians. Due to its position hemmed in between the railway line and the coast it has limitations, though not insurmountable. Unless a comprehensive capital development plan with necessary provisions for multiple road links across the railway line and a dependable water source, a capital there is untenable. If one leaves it to the greedy politicians and their ad-hoc administrators, disaster is imminent.

9. A Capital Development Plan  

With necessary resources, outsourced to a qualified international consortium to design and develop the administrative capital in a time-bound manner and provide surplus space for long term growth.

10. The Fund  

Must be adequate and must support the plan and the execution of which must be transparent under a specific independent authority. The fund also must provide for probable cost overruns due to inflation and the Chidambaram Effect on Rupee. All expenditure and delays must be audited and available in public domain.

The harebrained decisions of the central powers have given into the demands of lumpen elements driven by selfish politicians for their short term ends and succeeded in polarizing the people.

As there is little hope that some statesmanship still prevails in convincing our Telangana brethren in seeing the advantages of being united, this TEN POINT CHARTER may provide the road-map for future.