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Friday, January 4, 2008

Vizag to be developed on par with Kolkata, Chennai

Visakhapatnam: The coastal city of Visakhapatnam would be developed on par with Kolkata and Chennai, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said Thursday while promising the people to look into their demand for setting up an international airport in the city.

Addressing a public meeting, the prime minister also assured them that he would look into the demand for establishing in Visakhapatnam an Indian Institute of Management.

Stating that the city was emerging as a key industrial centre, Singh held out an assurance of all assistance from the central government to improve the civic infrastructure.

While agreeing to look into the demand for an international airport, the prime minister said efforts would be made to operate round-the-clock flights from the existing airport. "As far as making the airport operational for 24 hours is concerned, the ministry will be asked to operationalise this at the earliest opportunity," he said.

The existing airport is under the control of the Indian Navy, which has its eastern naval command headquarters here. Flights from this airport are operated only during daytime and the airport also faces the problem of frequent flooding during rains.

Chief Minister Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy, in his speech, urged the prime minister on behalf of the people of the state to sanction an international airport for the city.

Manmohan Singh, who was here to inaugurate the Indian Science Congress, also interacted with members of women self-help groups and lauded their efforts to fight poverty.

Earlier, he allayed fears about the future of state-owned Bharat Heavy Plate and Vessels (BHPV) Limited. He told a delegation of ruling Congress party leaders that the cabinet decision on making BHPV a subsidiary of Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited was final and there was nothing to worry over it.

The delegation led by former chief minister and Visakhapatnam MP N. Janardhan Reddy called on Singh late Wednesday.

The prime minister also told the delegation that Neelachal Ispat Nigam Limited would be merged with Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Limited (RINL), the corporate entity of Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, to solve the raw material problem faced by the latter.

The delegation demanded setting up of an Indian Institute of Management and other premier educational institutes, separate railway zone with Visakhapatnam as headquarters, and expeditious setting up of a Knowledge City on the city outskirts, and a petrochemical complex near Achuyutapuram.

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