How to turn Andhra Pradesh into a People’s State

How to turn Andhra Pradesh into a People’s State
Highlights

Historically, families in India are often subject to subdivision of houses and properties as a mark of family divide, sometimes smoothly enough without any hassle and at times through court cases.

Dr Abdul Razak MohamedHistorically, families in India are often subject to subdivision of houses and properties as a mark of family divide, sometimes smoothly enough without any hassle and at times through court cases. The subdivision is a common norm in cities, towns and villages, resulting from various social and economic reasons. In villages, agricultural lands are distributed to family members as a whole or in parts depending on the number of persons that would share the land. In terms of position, orientation and quality of land, the process of subdivision of lands has both positive and negative impacts on the person receiving a share.

Change in the population of cities, towns and villages takes place due to the natural growth of population (i.e. birth and death), migration of people and the extension of the administrative boundaries of the settlement. The inclusion and exclusion of areas of any settlement is based on the physical proximity of the administrative boundaries in mind so that it is easy to govern the people and resources. The physical proximity is very much essential for the governance of an area as an independent unit as well as its linkages with a large, influential area that is sometimes extended to other states, region, country and the world.

Historically, religious based Kings used to divide the areas in to Hindu, Muslim and British dynasties. Earlier, there were big landlords or warrior chiefs in different regions of India. It is evident from India’s history which underwent the divide and rule phase of government. States like Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh were split into two to march towards growth and development. In this race, the division of Telangana and Andhra Pradesh is not unexpected. Undivided Andhra Pradesh was one of the premier State which introduced Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and saw considerable growth and development over the past 25 to 30 years.

The new Andhra Pradesh

To my mind the division of the state has its losses and gains. Telangana does not include any coastal settlements and it is compact in terms of its physical shape. Telangana has the greater benefit of Hyderabad city which is one of the major metropolitans in India. Cyberabad is a major IT hub in the city and is world famous. But the boundary of the residual State of Andhra Pradesh appears much like God’s Own Country-Kerala.

I think it is very important to view the spatial structure of the new AP in relation to various administrative districts and the abutting boundaries of various States and its coast. On one side, the new AP is completely covered by the coastline and on the other, the boundaries touch three major states of Odisha, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. Almost 10 of the 13 districts are located on the coastline and the settlements have a very linear shape from Vizag to Nellore. The coastline has an area of 972 kilometres with a large concentration of smaller settlements. Another important aspect to mention is that there are four districts such as Srikakulam, Viziangaram, Vizag and East Godavari having coastal as well as Odisha state boundaries. There are nine districts having the Telangana State as boundaries as well as Kurnool and Anantapur having Karnataka state as its boundaries. The existence of the district Chittoor has a boundary with the state of Tamil Nadu. It is interesting to quote that there is only one district in the new AP- Cuddapah- which is located between the districts of Anantapur and Nellore which has no interface with either the coastline or any state.

So it is very important for AP in terms of spatial, economic, social, environment and infrastructure planning and good governance. The growth and development of the new AP needs coordination of the State government departments as well the neighbouring states. Planning for resources in the region should not take place in isolation and should be seen from a wider perspective- resources should be used optimally as well as judiciously without causing damage to the environment.

For example, the resource planning for a coastal area includes tourism, water transport, port planning etc. It’s a challenge for AP to build a State which could provide every citizen work and mobility be it villages, towns and cities.

Locating the capital could be one of the agendas of the State government to institutionalise change and bring about growth and development and to administer and manage public affairs. Rule of the State should be confined to democratic as well as constitutional aspects. It is essential to have centralised administrative place in one location with decentralised functional spaces in different regions of the State appropriately. This approach will help the new State government to create spatial access of livelihood needs and help the local government to provide employment, civic and social infrastructure facilities at their houses, streets and neighbourhoods.

For the smooth functioning of the State and the people who live in it, it’s essential to for spatial planning which could be at the macro and micro level with long term and short term goals and objectives. The State driven goals and objectives should incorporate public views on State development as a whole and various sector of development either it could be agriculture, forest, rural and urban development.

I think the new State of AP needs three levels of spatial planning for the state.

1 There is a need for State Urban Development Policy. The policy should focus on the spatial distribution of population, employment, natural resource, poverty reduction, development of coastal urban settlements, heritage and tourism, arts and handicrafts, agriculture, forest, trade, industries, environment, water, health and sanitation, transportation, sensitive areas, vulnerable communities, etc.

2 The need for preparation of district development plans, regional plans for resource regions. The preparation of the district and regional plans should follow the state urbanisation policy.

3 Based on regional and district level plans the block, taluk level plans could be prepared including the development agenda of the villages in the taluk and block level. The state urban policy should highlight on the interstate cooperation of relevant sectors and also formulate committees/boards and constitute members from those states.

The division of property among the family members or sale of property has a clear cut social and economic reason. At the same time it is appropriate to say that the division of state has social, economic and political reasons. I believe that the division of family and property could be of benefit for both so that the lifelong dispute could be solved and further live in cooperation. The reason could be many for the division of the new state of AP but what is important for the government is to rule the state to achieve welfare of all and achieve a People’s State.

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