Political turmoil over Telangana issue prevents it from setting up Disaster Recovery Centre

It is difficult to quantify the economic loss in Hyderabad caused by nearly two years of political turmoil over division of the State, except for corporates when their year-end balance sheets will show the gap between projections and the actual income.

There is one clear instance, however, of how the disturbances scared the Oil & Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) to drop plans to build a Rs. 282 crore Disaster Recovery Centre near the ICICI building at Gachibowli here.

A piece of 2.6 acres of land allotted to the ONGC in October 2006 for constructing an avante garde building is lying vacant, save for a compound wall and a gate. What is more, the corporation, faced with the threat of forfeiting the allotment, has been forced to pay to the A. P. Industrial Infrastructure Corporation a development fee of Rs. 1.05 crore. It may end up paying more such instalments every year if the land lies idle.

The Fortune 500 company with a net worth of Rs. 864 billion (2009-10) planned ‘fancy buildings' at its headquarters in Dehra Dun, Chennai, Hyderabad, Delhi and Kolkata, some for consolidating its office space and others for expansion and meeting future requirements. For example, the one in Delhi is the ONGC Energy Centre to carry out research in alternate energy sources beyond hydrocarbons.

The Disaster Recovery Centre in Hyderabad was to be a green, intelligent, barrier-free office complex where critical data could be stored permanently without threat of destruction during natural disasters. It was to house a regional corporate office for the offshore activities in the Krishna-Godavari (KG) basin, a data interpretation centre and a centre for IT excellence. Hyderabad was recommended as the most suitable location by Microsoft Inc after it did a risk analysis.

Such an office was long overdue since the KG Basin office is located in Chennai from where the Basin Manager operates. ONGC has two important assets in Andhra Pradesh that oversee onland and offshore drilling and survey activities – Kakinada Eastern Offshore Asset and the Rajahmundry Asset.

Both places were considered not safe enough from natural disasters point of view to construct a building, the second after the Vadodra centre, that could house a vast data base.

It is understood that two Congress MPs from coastal Andhra lobbied hard in Delhi last year against setting up the centre in Hyderabad, overlooking the fact that the demand to shift the KG Basin office to AP is nearly three decades old. Once the land in Gachibowli was chosen, the ONGC paid Rs. 5.26 crore to the APIIC. As the separate Telangana movement was at its peak, the ONGC dropped the idea and focussed attention on the ventures in Delhi and Kolkata.

A paradox considering that two MPs from the State — S. Jaipal Reddy and V. Arun Kumar — head the Petroleum Ministry and the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Petroleum respectively.

  • 2.6 acres of land allotted in Gachibowli to ONGC in October 2006 for constructing building

  • Hyderabad recommended as most suitable location by Microsoft after it did a risk analysis