Naidu charts grandiose plans to realise his vision for Andhra

Hyderabad: The Chandrababu Naidu government has drawn up ambitious plans to transform Andhra Pradesh into a “bustling” state and place it among the top three states in the country by 2022.

Development of 14 major and minor ports, rivalling Singapore on the maritime front, three international airports and 14 domestic airports, three ‘mega cities’ and 11 ‘smart cities’ and 28 Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are top on the government’s agenda to make AP an “air and maritime hub” and propel economic development.

Creation of inland waterways in the state and a National Waterway connecting coastal town Kakinada with Puducherry is also on the anvil.

Add the five “grids” and the seven “missions”, the plans look massive for a state that is seeking to re-build itself in the aftermath of the bifurcation.

The five grids contemplated by the government are water, power, highways, gas and fibre optic. The seven missions comprise primary sector, social empowerment, skill and knowledge development, urban development, industry sector and infrastructure sector.

These missions will have specific objectives to push the growth plans envisaged by the government, create jobs and help alleviate poverty.

“A society without poverty.. a state that is a centre of technology…And, a joyous population confident of its bright future… That is my ultimate vision for Andhra Pradesh,” says Naidu.

“I will ensure that we create the entire ecosystem and develop each city into a growth centre and eventually transform Andhra Pradesh into a bustling state,” he promises, adding that he would convert the current adversities (caused by the state’s division) into opportunities for all-round progress.

However, everything remains only on paper as of now, with no firm estimates of the finances required or the time frame within which the projects could be completed.

The biggest factor that could make or mar these grandiose projects is the availability of funds, as the state remains bankrupt. The state government is banking largely, if not solely, on the Centre to finance major projects like ports, airports and road networks, apart from smart cities.

“Our assistance to the state will be project-specific and not free grants,” Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said during his recent trip to the state but the Naidu government wants the Centre to fulfil the “commitments” made in the AP Reorganisation Act-2014 and extend all financial help to the truncated state.

“Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured he would do ‘justice’ to the state,” the Chief Minister had announced after a recent meeting with him.

But the state is yet to prepare comprehensive project reports to be presented to the Centre.

“Everything is only on the drawing board right now. We have to workout finer details of each plan before we can prepare detailed project reports,” a Principal Secretary to government, involved in the process, told PTI.

In the case of international airports, the task is rather easier with respect to Tirupati and Visakhapatnam. Work on upgrading the existing domestic airport at Tirupati into an international one is already going but problems in identifying a suitable location has been holding up the construction of a new civilian international airport in port city Visakhapatnam.

The existing international airport in Vizag is currently under the control of Indian Navy.

As Vijayawada is tipped to become the new capital of the state, a new international airport (possibly a greenfield) has to be built but plans for this have not even been drawn so far.

Among the five ‘grids’ mooted, the state hopes to draw funds from the Centre for the power and fibre-optic grids under the ‘Power for All’ and ‘Bharat Broadband Network Project’.

“All these projects are like a five-year plan. Accordingly, we are preparing the project reports with varying priorities. Some of them will be ready in the next fortnight or so and we will then forward them to the Centre for financial assistance,” a top bureaucrat said.

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