Vizag to expand: 13 mandals added to VMRDA, beach corridor and airport prioritised

The YSRCP government has proposed shifting the executive functions of the state capital from Amaravati to Vizag, but the matter is pending in the High Court.
Aerial view of RK beach in Vizag with buildings on the right side of the beach road
Aerial view of RK beach in Vizag with buildings on the right side of the beach road
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The Andhra Pradesh government on Tuesday issued a notification to include 13 more mandals of Visakhapatnam district under the Visakhapatnam Metropolitan Region Development Authority (VMRDA). Out of 43 mandals of Visakhapatnam district, 19 were already under the VMRDA while 11 mandals fall under the Integrated Tribal Development Agency (ITDA) area. Now, the remaining 13 non-Agency mandals have also been brought under the VMRDA. The decision was taken due to “rapid urbanisation” of Visakhapatnam city in the fringes of VMRDA areas, “to reduce pressure on urban infrastructure of the city and to ensure planned development in the fringe areas,” the order said. 

The 13 mandals, including Narsipatnam, Madugula, Rolugunta and Chodavaram, cover a total of 431 villages and an area of 2,280.19 sq kms. The order notifying their inclusion in VMRDA said that these mandals have the potential to develop as urban areas. With this, the area under VMRDA has expanded to  7328.86 sq kms. The notification comes days after the ruling YSRCP’s massive win in the urban local body elections, following which YSRCP MP Vijayasai Reddy had said that the victory reflected people’s support for the three capital proposal. 

Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy on Tuesday also reviewed multiple “prioritised projects” to come up in Visakhapatnam, including Bhogapuram Airport, Beach Corridor Project, and diversion of Godavari waters from Polavaram to Visakhapatnam through a pipeline project. As part of the Beach Corridor project, the existing beach road from Visakhapatnam to Bheemili is set to be expanded up to Bhogapuram, at an estimated cost of Rs 1,167 crore, including land acquisition. Along with the pipeline project for river water diversion, an action plan is being prepared to meet the water needs of Visakhapatnam city for the next 30 years, a statement from the Chief Minister’s Office said. 

According to officials, a DPR has been prepared under the Visakhapatnam Metro Rail Project, for a route connecting the 76.9 km stretch from Visakha Steel Plant gate to Bhogapuram, with 53 stations. Proposals have also been prepared for a 60.2 km tram corridor, and the total cost of establishing metro and tram services would come up to Rs 20,000 crore, according to the CMO. 

Back in July 2020, Andhra Pradesh Governor Biswabhusan Harichandan had approved two pending Bills related to the trifurcation of the state capital — AP Decentralisation And Inclusive Development of All Regions Bill, 2020, and the AP Capital Region Development Authority (Repeal) Bill, 202. The decentralisation Bill paves way for the establishment of three different capitals in different regions of the state —  the executive capital at Visakhapatnam, the legislative capital in Amaravati and judicial capital in Kurnool. 

However, farmers and landowners in Amaravati who had given up their land to the CRDA (in exchange for developed plots in an urbanised capital region) have continued to oppose the move, as it entails major functions of the government being shifted to Visakhapatnam. With more than 70 petitions challenging the two Bills filed in the Andhra Pradesh High Court and pending hearing, the legislation has been stalled for almost a year. 

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