‘Focus should be on hinterland as coastal stretch offers limited options for development’
At a time when the proposal of making the city Executive capital of the State is flaring up various speculations over the location of the corridor of power, experts and urban planners opine that the Beach Road stretch between Visakhapatnam and Bheemunipatnam should be exempted from the expansion plans.
Urban planners welcome the move for decentralisation saying that it would benefit the city and augur well with the development of backward areas in north coastal Andhra Pradesh. However, they are averse to the idea of touching the coastal stretch.
“Visakhapatnam is a developed city. The need of the hour is a holistic approach to planning so that focus can be laid on the development of new areas. The plans should ensure that no area is left behind, else it would lead to unmethodical development,” observes Shabnam Patel, an architect and urban planner.
Experts feel that the focus should be on the hinterland such as Anakapalle, Duvvada, Pendurthi, Vepagunta, Sabbavaram and Vizianagaram. “When we talk about setting up the Executive capital, we should be thinking of a larger city extending from Tuni in East Godavari district to Vizianagaram,” opines architect and urban planner Y. Narasimha Rao.
The experts feel that the Tuni-Vizianagaram corridor is well connected by roads and railways. The international airport proposed at Bhogapuram airport would boost the air connectivity. Vizag is well suited for setting up the Executive capital, they say.
“Already, the city has a good rail connectivity. What it needs now is a secondary line to set up a suburban train network from Tuni to Vizianagaram, akin to the ones in cities such as Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai,” says Mr. Narasimha Rao. The metro rail will be an additional feature, making it an effective public transport system that can take the load off the roads, he adds.
Planners should make use of the existing rail network, the six-lane NH and the bus rapid transport system (BRTS), and build the proposed capital around these spines, says Ms. Shabnam Patel. Referring to development, experts say that there is a huge tract of land that can be expanded in phases. “The land on the coastal stretch is limited. If the development has to move to the hinterland eventually, why not now,” she says.
The environmental aspect should also be kept in mind. The coastal stretch is witnessing a lot of construction activity which contributes substantially to pollution. Anything more than this will prove disastrous. The experts argue that the hinterland has sufficient water resources, an important factor for development. There are rivers such as Gosthani and Sarada on both ends of the corridor and reservoirs such as Meghadrigedda, Gambheeram and Tatipudi can help deal with the requirement, says Mr. Narasimha Rao.
“There are many old tanks and other water bodies in the corridor and they can be revived. Moreover, the Polavaram water will reach Vizag. Now, one should invest on connectivity and things will fall in place,” he said.
The seamless continuity is needed to avoid skewed development and the Tuni-Vizianagaram corridor should be integrated with the Master Plan, adds Ms. Shabnam.
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