The Visakhapatnam Port Trust Chairman M.T. Krishna Babu, shares his vision of the city in the years to come.
Returning to the coastal city
Hailing from a village in Krishna District, M.T. Krishna Babu graduated from JNTU Kakinada, and worked at NTPC for about four years before venturing into Civil Services. More than a decade ago in 2000-2003 he was in Vizag, as the Joint Collector. Over time, he feels that the city has really grown. “The cosmopolitan nature of the city has considerably increased. The number of job opportunities has gone up too. It is always a pleasure to be back in Vizag. The city is less harried, time taken for commuting is less, and there is so much scenic beauty. Less commuting time translates to more time spent with the family. So naturally for any officer, Vizag is definitely a good city.”
Tapping the city’s potential
“Vizag has immense potential, but we need to allow development to happen”, says M.T. Krishna Babu. “The city should have balanced growth; industries should come – white goods, electronics components manufacturers, IT; these are the sectors which will generate employment. We should encourage various kinds of industries, especially those which are non-polluting in nature. Moreover, there are many opportunities for manufacturing industries because the city has the infrastructure for making a very good industrial township. No other city in the world has the kind of advantage that Vizag has, of having two big ports and an international airport. Seaports and airports are the economic growth engines because they create activity. This factor alone positions Vizag as a valuable logistics hub.” Augmenting his theory of Vizag as a logistics hub, he lists out the advantages the city offers; “We are connected by a national highway and a very good railway network, though presently, the rail network is congested and still needs improvement. There is also the possibility, in the near future, of inland water transport, when the Polavaram project starts. Thus, Vizag offers multimodal transportation facilities. Added to that is the proximity; geographically we are very near to our major import and export destinations – China and Southeast Asia. India’s trade with these regions is the highest in terms of volume and value. Taking all these factors into consideration, there are a lot of advantages in developing Vizag as a logistical hub, as it can cater to the import/export needs of nearly seven states inland, which is a radius of almost 600 to 1000 kilometers inland. Logistic players like Flipkart, Amazon, Alibaba and Snapdeal import white goods from Taiwan or Hong Kong all the way to Mumbai –which necessitates five additional voyage days when compared to Vizag. Then again many of those goods are ferried landside to the eastern part of the country. All that time and money can be saved if Vizag serves as a good logistic hub, for which we have to provide good warehousing facility, skilled manpower and good connectivity inland. The Chief Minister’s current focus is on marketing the city and developing Vizag as a good logistics hub. And for that, the port is contributing via infrastructure.”
No other city in the world has the kind of advantage that Vizag has, of having two big ports and an international airport
Visualising a futuristic Vizag
Thanks to the Sagarmala Project, Vizag city will see a lot of infrastructural development. “The Prime Minister has been insisting that ports under the Sagarmala project should be modernised on par with international ports and have manufacturing units located within 30 kilometres radius for faster economic growth” says the Port Trust Chairman. He also adds that under the project, the coastal community lifestyle would also be improved by way of imparting skills to local people like the fishermen. But the most advantageous aspect of the project is the 48 km six lane city-bypass road from Anakapalli to Anandapuram, which will ease the congestion on the highway passing through the heart of the city. This Anakapalli-Anandapuram road will be connected to the port via a 13 km road from Sheelangar near the port to Sabbavaram. Further detailing about port-influenced development, he says that the proposed Vizag-Chennai corridor with manufacturing sectors at five different nodes will change the overall economic scenario in the region.
Reiterating the Prime Minister’s message, the Port Chairman stresses on civic sense and cleanliness. “We are trying to position our city as a tourist destination. When you are targeting international tourists, the first thing that matters is whether the city is clean and presentable, otherwise you cannot attract anybody. And unless people come, economic activity and consequently employment opportunities will not improve. Citizen’s participation is necessary if we want to really put our city on a pedestal.”
Keen on seeing rapid strides of development in the city, he had one more message for Vizagites; to be more accommodating with industries. “Without disregarding pollution issues, we should demonstrate industry-friendliness. There should be give-and-take approach and political leadership should take lead in creating confidence in the industry. We have to make a decision – whether we want the city to be pristine, pure and happy, without any substantial growth or accept growth along with development and an increase in per-capita. Growth will not come unless there is some degree of compromise.”