The civilian and Defence residential colonies in the Scindia area present a picture of perfect harmony
Scindia junction, for so it came to be known as over the years after Seth Walchand Hirachand, a great industrialist and visionary, established the Scindia Steam Navigation Company in 1941 in Visakhapatnam, once a fisherman village.
In 1948, the first ship — m.v. Jal Usha — was built, which was launched by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru.
In 1940, Seth Walchand selected Visakhapatnam as an ideal location and took possession of the land in November that year. The process of establishing the ship building company began at a time when the World War II was at its peak and the town bombed by the Japanese war planes. A determined and unfettered Walchand went about his project unnerved.
Dr. Rajendra Prasad, the then acting AICC president, laid the foundation stone for the historical ship building yard. Walchand died in 1953 and, in 1961, the shipyard was nationalised and renamed Hindusthan Shipyard Limited.
Today, life revolves around the historical Scindia junction, which has witnessed the growth of a mega industrial township in a span of seven decades. The area has evolved as a satellite industrial township of Visakhapatnam, with the Naval Dockyard coming next to the shipyard in 1949 and the Eastern Naval Command, with its units such as INS Circars, INS Satavahana, INS Veerabahu, Samudrika, and the naval air station INS Dega, being set up over the years. India’s first nuclear submarine INS Arihant was also launched in the Naval Dockyard in 2009.
Located around the core Defence establishments are civilian and Defence residential colonies for employees of these organisations.
Hindusthan Shipyard Limited has a vast and cosy residential area for its employees and their families. The residential colony has hundreds of houses for all classes of employees in a sprawling lush green environment.
The Utkal Samaj is an active social and cultural organisation, which celebrates several festivals every year. ‘Kartika Pournami’ and Utkal Diwas are the two major festivals for which all communities living in the colony look forward to.
Utkal Samaj president Jaya Krishna Panigrahi says that the 300-strong family community integrates very well with the local population in enjoying life.
Odyssey dance enthralls and electrifies the participants during the Utkal Diwas celebrations. On April 1 every year, the Orissa Formation Day celebrations are well organised and the local communities integrate with the Oriya-speaking people and celebrate festivals with a spirit of oneness.
Priyanka Panigrahi, an active member of the Utkal Samaj, says that life for them revolves around the colony, where women meet on a daily basis in groups, purchasing vegetables together, exchanging cooking recipes, watching movies, and even going for morning walk together.
Life in the colony is fun with many occasions for socialising coming their way. It could be a birthday function, a marriage reception, or a community worship. The colony has two excellent parks. Two other parks are in bad shape. It also has recreation centres and large sports grounds for playing cricket, volleyball, and other games.
As the evening dawns, hundreds of youths gather at multiple eatery points within the colony, which sell fast foods, noodles, and other hot stuff, and enjoy exchanging pleasantries. “Life in the colony is vibrant and it is a world apart,” says Vinod, a cricket lover.
The Hindusthan Shipyard Recreation Club and the Lalita Kala Mandir are known for their enriching and lively programmes such as celebration of Durga puja, Vinayaka puja, and other national festivals. The lone Scindia Baptist Church on the campus, with its Christmas and other festival spirit, contributes to the joy and oneness of the colony life.
Govind Rao, a retired employee who has long association and affinity with the colony, says that the colony is proud of its youngsters who made it big in sports. M.D. Kumar and M.S. Kumar played in the Ranjit Trophy for several years. Babjee Patnaik, G.T. Prasad, and Nityanand were some of those who added strength to the sports activity in the colony.
The Scindia colony is known Statewide for its annual D. Sekhar Rao Memorial Cricket Tournament, which is being organised without a break for the last 25 years. Probably, it is one of the very few cricket tournaments being conducted by a private organisation in India for such a long time. Recently, the organising committee handed over the conduct of the tournament to the Visakhapatnam District Cricket Association.
The former Deputy Mayor of Visakhapatnam, Dadi Satyanarayana, points out that the grand old industrial township, spanning from Scindia to Gajuwaka, which houses several Defence and corporate industries, is poor in public amenities. Industrial pollution has made life miserable and poses a hazard to their health.
The residents of the area are in the dragnet of pollution caused by the Coromandel Fertilizers, the HPCL, and the HZL. The two lakh-odd population of the industrial township needs underground drainage and good roads. Effluents and chemical wastes have been systematically polluting groundwater. Industries should give funds for the underground drainage scheme and address pollution-related problems.
The Yarada Beach, known for its golden sands and pristine beauty, with mangroves and palm trees on three sides and the seashore on the other, is the perfect place for nature lovers. The beach, which is in proximity to the Scindia junction, attracts tourists from outside too. Naval personnel and industrial workers with their families frequent the place to enjoy the virgin beauty of the beach.
Unlike the Ramakrishna Beach, the Yarada Beach is clean, hygienic, and its waters unpolluted. The sea is surrounded by picturesque hills and valley, and the beach with soft pebbles and rocks are a feast to the eye.
Naval officer Commander Raja Sekhar says that his family enjoys going to Yarada as it resembles the enchanting beaches of Goa.
Naval Park and NWWA
Another most happening place is the Naval Park and the Nausena Bagh. Naval officers reside in the park and the Sailors in the Nausena Bagh. The beauty of Scindia junction, where the Naval residential colonies are located, is the perfect integration and harmony between the Defence personnel and the civilian population.
The Naval Park is the most happening place due to the presence of the Naval Wives’ Welfare Association (NWWA). For the wives of Naval officers and personnel, life revolves around the NWWA. They are busily engaged from dawn to dusk. Their daily chores, apart from domestic, are related to running of schools for special children, kindergarten school for children of servantmaids, block printing unit for sailors’ wives, stitching, embroidery-making, running the gymnasium, library, beauty parlour, and a host of other activities.
Ms. Mathia is the secretary of the local association.