Time to get to work
So where does the bifurcation of the great State of Andhra Pradesh, leave the Seemandhra region? Well, to begin, it opens up the residuary state of Seemandhra to a lot of opportunities in the real-estate, mining and manufacturing sector.
The real-estate sector will see a boom because a new capital is to be identified and built for Seemandhra. Building a new capital city will not come cheap, as it will need a whole new infrastructure to keep the government functional. The offshoot of the new capital would see increased investment and development in and around the new capital city.
Seemandhra is blessed with the availability of a wide array of minerals, from bauxite to iron ore, which can be mined for the benefit of the new State. According to the Department of Mines and Geology of the Government of Andhra Pradesh, Seemandhra region is rich in deposits of beach sands, barytes, limestone, gold and uranium.
But the new State government will need to ensure that extractive industries like mining are handled in a transparent fashion, with the government getting its fair share of the mining of important minerals, so the money can be used in a manner that gives the maximum benefit to the people of the state.
Thirdly, the new State can begin with a clean slate in the manufacturing sector, because, let’s face it: Seemandhra is home to the public sector, particularly in Visakhapatnam. And there is only so much employment that the public sector can generate without going bankrupt. Well-paying jobs can be generated by the private sector, but there is no major private sector investment in Seemandhra, barring the odd Isuzu plant in Chittoor district. A new government thus has the opportunity to put in place policies that will make Seemandhra an attractive destination for the manufacturing sector.
The Isuzu Motors plant, which is scheduled to be commissioned in 2016, can serve as a good example to investors to show that Seemandhra is open for business. But the new government will have to have steady nerves to formulate investor-friendly policies rather than succumbing to the old socialist spin that says that government will play a major role in creating jobs. We have seen that such an approach does not work.
Another sector which has the potential to scale up rapidly in Seemandhra is the information technology sector. Currently, the IT sector in Seemandhra is present only in Visakhapatnam, so the new government can take a few quick steps to ramp up the IT sector in the port city.
According to Mr. Naresh Kumar O, vice president of the Rushikonda IT Park Association, the first thing that the Seemandhra government can do to give a boost to the IT sector is to build two large IT parks, each of one million sq. feet. This could be done in 18 months’ time, he said. Mr. Kumar said that if IT companies are offered rent-free accommodation in the new facilities, it would serve as a magnet for new investment in the IT sector. He says other concessions for the IT sector could include free Internet bandwidth, free building plan approvals for the first 2-3 years, and no municipal taxes for new employment creation at the IT and business parks for five years.
A fourth sector that could serve to create jobs is the port sector. Seemandhra would have India’s second longest coastline, 972 km, but paradoxically it has only one major and few non-major ports. According to analysts, the new government of Seemandhra, when it assumes office, should come up with a robust plan to build a few more ports, via the Public-Private Partnership model.
The sectors, inter alia, mentioned above have the potential to put Seemandhra on a path of sustained development. It is time to look forward with hope, rather than look back with bitterness. It is time to ring in the new. It is time to get to work.