In Conversation With Vizag District Collector- N Yuvraj, IAS

A busy office runs at the Collectorate as many wait their turn to meet the Collector. When he enters, walking briskly as he does, the crowd clears quickly, with each and every person’s needs taken care of in the shortest possible time. While it is difficult to stand in the shoes of a leader who so deftly manages the affairs of the region, Narsimhan Yuvaraj does it with élan, channelling his energies into his work completely and unequivocally. Yo! Vizag team interacted with this dynamic personality, who radiates the confidence that our city is in good hands.

His personal side
‘Narsimhan is my father’s name. I am a Tamilian who was born and brought up in Salem, Tamil Nadu. I graduated in Veterinary Science and my first stint with Andhra Pradesh was in the year 2000, when I worked at the Sangham district as a veterinary doctor. I went on to do my Masters in Veterinary Science, and while working in a vaccine production unit in Tamil Nadu, prepared for the Civils, with the idea of doing something for the society. I cleared the Civils and during the training phase met Janaki at the Academy. I proposed to her at the Andamans, and we got married in 2006. Today she is the Collector of Nellore. We have two beautiful daughters named Harshini who is 8 years old and Roshini who is 4 and half.’

Professional persona
‘It was in the year 2006 that I first came to Visakhapatnam. While a Collector mainly looks after coordination, post bifurcation, our role has changed in the state. Now my role is that of a growth engine, I would say, leading the district in this changing scenario. Visakhapatnam is a wonderful place, and I’d say one of the best cities to work in. Working as Collector and VC for last three years, my responsibilities include looking at the varied opportunities available, understanding how best to harness their potential and understand the weaknesses and strength of the city. In this regard, the overall vision given by the Chief Minister works as a great fillip, giving Visakhapatnam its set of advantages.’

Smart city in the making
‘A smart city isn’t just about having plenty of technology or wifi. It means making a city more liveable, comfortable, lively and green. For Vizag, having at least six hours of water supply, sanitation, clean drinking water, roads, greenery and sufficient transportation area few parameters. Only when these basic needs are saturated, and we have a city without slum areas, can we focus on other aspects. In fact, speaking of this, we did a survey of what Vizagites desired from their city, and were surprised that most people sought a disaster free city, where accidents are minimal and the quality of life is high. A city where the drains are well covered, where garbage is taken care of, where the basic needs are taken care of is a disaster free city. We are unique, because our industries are inside the city. While working towards zero pollution is impossible, we want to bring it down. And we are now working to make people aware of pollution levels in the city. We’re building a facility where people can SMS us and we can tell them about the pollution levels at specific parts of the city. For example, at NAD junction, pollution is high, but it isn’t due to industries, but due to vehicles.’

Our traffic challenges
‘While the number of vehicles are increasing in Vizag, the traffic still isn’t as alarming as metros. What we need to do right now is to modernize traffic junctions and signals, so that it doesn’t get held up at different places. Another issue that we’re addressing pertains to our unique highway, 132kms of which runs right through the city from Steel Plant to Madhurwada, causing heavy rush. Efforts are on to shift it from Anandapuram to Anakapalle junction, so the pressure of traffic eases. We’re also working on improving road width and creating new roads wherever possible. Finally, once the metro comes up, pressure on the roads will surely reduce.’
A disability-friendly outlook
‘The Government of India has selected 40-50 cities across the country to make them disability-friendly, and we are one of them. Under this initiative, the govt. offices will have lifts and ramps. Already work is being undertaken at the Collectorate and at the district court, and lifts are being installed. Besides this, public spaces where people frequent will also have ramps along with schools and hospitals, where a disability-friendly environment is being attempted. In fact, the National Institute of Disability Sports Center has also been granted for the city and work will begin soon near Gambheeram.’

Tourism and our Pride
The beach ‘We have great tourism potential thanks to our unique topography. We are thus focusing on hilly areas of Araku and Lambasingi where low winter temperatures are a great attraction. Besides that the beach is being developed at six locations towards the Northern side up to Bheemli. Thotlakonda and Rushikonda are being developed with shacks and well maintained zones with good quality food and infrastructure. We hope to make a few of these sections operational by summer, so people can go for ferrying in the waters. When it comes to water sports, our side of the ocean is rough with turbulent waters, so high risk is involved. Our beaches are deceptive and we need strong technical advisors, before we can work on water sports here.’

On Vizag’s Quality of life
‘Plenty of development is happening in the city. Today we are at the 5th position in India’s cleanest cities, a rise from the 205th place. I think that, the quality of life in any city depends upon the quality of its people. Vizagites are quiet and law abiding people and here you can expect good quality service in a small hotel. To improve on what we already have, we need to take it to an international standard, so visitors who come here feel so too. In fact, we now have a ranking system that compares cities from across the country, and we now need to focus on other service areas and increase transparency. We are also emerging as a strong city on sports, and plans for a Gachibowli kind of stadium in Pendurthy is in the pipeline. Besides that, mini stadiums by GVMC, VUDA, the Navy, Railways, Port, an Archery Academy in Araku are coming up too. A synthetic track has been sanctioned as well.’

My vision for the city over the coming decade, is to see more industries, high quality educational institutions and high rise buildings that provide more people with their own homes.

Health matters
‘We are a district with a very peculiar topography. This is where Eastern ghats meet the sea near Kailasagiri, giving us the hilly regions of Araku, Paderu etc. on one end, rural areas on the other end and the city on one side . In fact, if you consider the hilly area in itself it is equal to 200 districts. Moreover, we are horizontally spread out. Each region has its own set of challenges, for example the cities with dense population face threats from diseases that are transmitted from one person to another. Agency areas are more prone to malaria and other such diseases. With the size and disparity, a proposal to create separate health district for each of these three distinct regions is being presented. That said, our health facilities are among the best in the nation and people from across the country are coming here for the quality of care, cost and comfort we offer.’

Vision for Vizag
‘Vizag should be a liveable green city, with good infrastructure and favourable environment for cosmopolitan investment, impeccable record of law and order. My vision for the city over the coming decade, is to see more industries, high quality educational institutions and high rise buildings that provide more people with their own homes. Vizag has a lot of potential and we are now harnessing it.’

Changes, Challenges and Advantages
‘Over the years, many changes, both good and bad have taken place in the city. One major negative change is the loss of our green cover. Before the cyclone Hudhud, Google maps showed large green areas, but now bare buildings can be seen. We have lost the cover, of trees over 40 years old and it will take us that amount of time to bring them back. That’s something we actively need to do for our future generations. The serenity of beaches is gone too. On the positive side, changes include plenty of developments, various projects in the pipeline and definitely a cleaner city. Speaking of challenges, Vizag’s main concern is its connectivity. We need fast trains and more flight options. While we have good number of industries, we need world-class educational institutions and IT organizations that can churn out higher quality people. One of our biggest advantages of course, is a supportive CM.’

On his daily schedule
‘I get up at 5AM in the morning, that’s the quietest time of the day for me and I look through the various files and paperwork. From 10:30AM onwards I look into public meetings and discussions while planning oriented meetings are held mostly in the evenings. I don’t have specific time to relax, so I try to do that during work. Vizag is different in nature because of its judicious mix of PSUs, various big players and the numerous government programs that happen simultaneously.’

His message
‘The way a city turns out to be, depends upon its people. In fact, I strongly believe that it is the native people who can make their city the way they want it to be. I therefore urge people to keep the city clean and to plant more trees. We need to leave that behind for the next generation. Secondly, I wish to stress on the importance of quality consciousness, for each and every person in whatever sphere of life they may be. That will make all the difference.’

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