METRO PLUS

Men who matter -- P. Suryanarayana Raju

"I-max theatre is definitely coming to this city. Keeping the tourism angle and the sentiments of the youth in mind, we shall see that theatre was constructed somewhere within the city limits but not at the old Central Prison site, which will be the lung space for the citizens, as promised. We are planning a beautiful botanical garden at that place."

That is the reassurance of the Chairmanm of Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority, Pakalapati Suryanarayana Raju aka Ravi, on the issue, over which the senior citizens are agitated.

Born and bred in this city, he is a man deeply involved with the development and well being of this city. Nephew of the late Congress Minister, K.V.R.S. Padmanabha Raju, Ravi had been into active politics since his polytechnic days. A staunch Congressman from the beginning, he says he has always been a behind-the-scene player - for almost over 32 years. "I will not call myself a kingmaker, but I was instrumental for the victory of many MLAs and MPs from this city."

Mr. Raju was the vice-president of the Defence Federation (south zone); vice-president of the City Youth Congress; president of the district Youth Congress; and publicity secretary of the AP Youth Congress.

He also had a brief stint as the chairman of Super Market in 1993. According to him this was one of the most satisfying work in his life. "Though the tenure was very short, as I had voluntarily quit, after the Congress Government fell in 1994, I had a very satisfying tenure. When I took over as its chairman, the market was making an annual loss of Rs.32 lakhs. Not only did I step up the marketing drive but I was also instrumental in making it the super bazaar the centralised purchasing point for all districts. By the time I left the post, it had started earning profit."

Mr. Raju visualises Vizag as one among the top cities in the world in the coming years. Apart from the promise of a botanical garden at the old Central Prison site, he has a number of projects on hand.

"We have already got the sanction for the Rs.60 crore four-lane road from Visakhapatnam to Bheemunipatnam. But the most important thing is we are planning to build a decent home for beggars.

I want to make this city beggar-free. We are developing a plan in coordination with the District Collector and the Commissioner of Police to make it a success, as we are aware that there is a racket involving beggars in this city. Whatever we do it shall be fool-proof.

We have even taken care of the displacement issue, if any, in regard to the four-lane road also. I hold out the assurance that the displaced persons would be better settled."

He also has plans to build a low-cost housing colony for the below poverty line and the lower middle class people on a trial basis.

On the cultural front, he says, "VUDA would seriously take up the promotion of Gurazada Kalashetram and the Children's World. We want people to utilise the facilities by organising one good cultural programme at least once a month. Let organisations come up with good children's film festivals and science shows, we shall give all the necessary support."

How he proposed to achieve his dreams and plans?

"I have a good, young and a dynamic team of bureaucrats like the VUDA Vice-Chairman, D. Varaprasad, the District Collector, Praveen Prakash, the Joint Collector, Sandip Kumar Sultaniya, the Municipal Commissioner, N. Srikanth, and the Commissioner of Police, V.S.K. Kaumudi. We are all on the same wavelength when it comes to the development of this city."

SUMIT BHATTACHARJEE