Taking the supporters of Telangana supporters by surprise the Union government has given its nod to the ambitious Information Technology Investment Region proposal for Hyderabad which envisions an investment of Rs 2.19 lakh crore in and around the city over the next 25 years.
The proposal pending with the central government for many years has been resurrected at a stage when the future of Hyderabad city has become the biggest obstacle in the way of finding a solution to Telangana tangle.
While the supporters of Telangana state want the city to be the capital of their state, the leaders from Rayalaseema and Andhra were demanding a status of joint capital or Union Territory to Hyderabad so their interests in the city were protected.
Telangana supporters were expressing apprehensions that by bringing up projects like ITIR at this juncture the central government was making the issue even more complicated and fuelling demands to make the city a Union Territory.
On Thursday, Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said that no decision was taken on the status of Hyderabad. But there were indications that Centre was mulling over three options for the city -- Telangana state capital, joint capital or Union territory or Telangana capital with certain powers in the hands of the Centre.
Telangana Rashtra Samiti president K Chandrashekhar Rao has strongly rejected any possibility other than making Hyderabad the capital of Telangana. Addressing the Telangana government employees in Hyderabad he made it clear that Hyderabad cannot be a common capital. “People of Telangana will never agree to share the city with Seema-Andhra people,” he said.
Rao said that Hyderabad could be a temporary capital of Andhra for five years and the employees of that region can stay in the city as tourists.
The proposed ITIR project, which got the nod from the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs, will have special economic zones, export oriented units, growth centres, and hubs of IT software, hardware and ITES units.
According to the officials of the state information technology department the region will be developed on an area of 50,000 acres in two phases over a period of 25 years and will provide direct employment to 15 lakh people. The first phase will be ready by 2018.
Hyderabad, which in the late 1990s and early 2000 was fast rising as the second Silicon Valley of south India after Bangalore has experienced a significant slowdown over the last five years due to the raging movement for a separate Telangana state and worsening political instability.
The IT industry of Andhra Pradesh had a turnover of Rs 53,246 crore during 2011-12 and contributed 12.4 per cent to the total IT exports of the country and ranks 4th in IT performance in the country.
Despite hiccups the IT/ITES exports from Andhra Pradesh grew up by 26 percent to touch Rs 51,285 crore during 2012-13. Hyderabad’s Hitec City is home to world’s biggest names in the IT industry including Microsoft, Google and Facebook.
Telangana state supporters, who made it clear that nothing less than Hyderabad as capital will be acceptable to them, apprehend that by increasing its stakes with massive projects like ITIR at this stage, it was trying to strengthen the hands of those who want to see the city become either a joint capital of two states or a Union territory.
Earlier the attempt by the state government to expand the territory of Hyderabad city by merging 35 surrounding villages was shot down by the opposition parties in the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. This would have include the GHMC area by another 930 square kms.
Telangana supporters had seen this too part of a discreet plan to turn Hyderabad in to a Union territory.