Santosh Patnaik

VISAKHAPATNAM: Nearly a year after signing a memorandum of understanding with International Finance Corporation, a member of World Bank Group, to suggest measures for investment in coastal corridor project, the State Government did a volte-face on Monday apparently due to political compulsion.

With an eye on elections for Lok Sabha and Assembly due next year, the Congress Government now says no final decision has yet been taken. Ironically, the government also backed out from its ban on land transactions in 150 notified villages between Visakhapatnam and Kakinada due to mounting pressure from the Opposition and various social action groups. An order was also issued sometime ago to prepare a blueprint for the corridor project by establishing Visakhapatnam-Kakinada Coastal Corridor Special Development Authority.

Minister for Infrastructure M. Venkata Ramana Rao spring a surprise on Monday by telling reporters that no final decision had been taken and that they only wanted to develop a parallel road to the highway to develop infrastructure. He said India’s first Petroleum, Chemical and Petrochemical Investment Region (PCPIR) proposed near Visakhapatnam was not part of coastal corridor.

“It is interesting to note that the government, whatever maybe the compulsion, is listening to public sentiments. The intention will be trusted if the order on Special Development Authority is nullified immediately. Otherwise it will become an eyewash,” said Rebbapragda Ravi, executive director of Samata, an NGO fighting against land acquisition.

Theme presentation

A theme presentation made by L&T-Ramboll Consulting Engineers on the request of the government states that there is a need for regional planned approach to evolve integrated industrial corridor/region. APIIC Managing Director B.P. Acharya recently told a meeting in the city that massive investments were coming up in the coastal corridor between Visakhapatnam and Kakinada with the country’s first PCPIR near Achyutapuram at an estimated cost of $6 billion.

Of 1,50,000 lakh acres earmarked for the corridor, 45 per cent is identified for processing area in 66,600 acres. Nearly 77 per cent of processing area is in possession of 51,500 acres. Five notified Special Economic Zones are coming up at Atchyutapuram, Rambilli, Parawada and Nakkapali mandals of Visakhapatnam district and Thodangi and Kottapalli mandals of East Godavari district. Only time will say how serious the powers-that-be is on the corridor project.