विजयवाड़ा Vijayawada (BZA): The people of the largest city in Andhra Pradesh after bifurcation – Visakhapatnam – need not despair about the city losing out to Vijayawada as the capital of the new state. Chief Minister N.Chandrababu Naidu has struck to his promise of decentralised development and seems committed to the integrated development of the new state in the statement he made in Assembly on Thursday.
The biggest boon to Vizag is that it is destined to become Headquarters of the new railway zone SECoR. In fact, it is one of the 12 projects listed out by him for Visakhapatnam district. It will be developed as a mega city besides being developed as a mega IT hub. Besides Visakhapatnam, he also showered boons on Srikakulam and Vizianagaram, which can spur the growth of north Andhra region. The proposed new Greenfield International Airport, which is likely to be set up at Bhogapuram in Vizianagaram district, can meet the long-term expansion needs of Visakhapatnam International Airport. The Vizag-Chennai Industrial Corridor, which has already been announced by the Centre, will spur industrial growth. The talks with representatives of MNCs are in an advanced stage and are expected to attract huge investments, Mr.Naidu said. The other proposals which can put Vizag on the fast track mode of development include: metro rail, mega IT hub, electronics manufacturing centre.
On the contrary, Railwaymen and public representatives from Vijayawada have expressed shock of the announcement. The hopes of having the headquarters of the proposed South East Coast Railway (SECoR) Zone in Vijayawada have been dashed, with Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu deciding to set it up in Visakhapatnam, they said.
Vijayawada Division was viewed by Railway employees’ unions and passengers as the most suitable for setting up the HQ of the proposed zone but the government thought otherwise.
There was speculation that Vijayawada would be chosen for the zonal HQ amidst contradictory reports that it (Vijayawada) might be ruled out as an option. The latter has finally come true for reasons which appear to be more commercial than logistical. Incidentally, the annual revenue of the Visakhapatnam Division, which is situated in Bhubaneswar-based East Coast Railway, is more than double that of the Vijayawada division.
Coming to logistics, Visakhapatnam is no match to Vijayawada division. The number of trains (both passenger and freight) that pass through Vijayawada station is a staggering 300-plus in a day. But this was ignored for various other reasons on which clarity is likely to emerge in the due course.
Divisional Railway Manager Pradeep Kumar denied having any information about the location of the new zone’s HQ except that he came to know of the speculation through the media. Reports in a section of the media, he said, said from day one that the zone HQ would be located in Visakhapatnam, as the capital was destined to be set up around Vijayawada, whereas a number of issues were to be sorted out by the Ministry of Railways to carve out a new zone.