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Human Rights Forum demands VUDA Master Plan in Telugu
Visakhapatnam, February 11, 2004

The Human Rights Forum demands that the Master Plan for Visakhapatnam Metropolitan Region Perspective - 2021 put out by the VUDA in English be translated into Telugu and only then objections and suggestions be invited form the people of the region.

The Master Plan for VMR - 2021 has been made available to the public as recently as February 6 while the last date for filing objections and suggestions has been fixed for February 15. This master Plan, which runs into 143 pages including several maps, contains a set of coordinated policies concerned with development aspects. There is also a separate section on zoning and subdivision regulations which are integral to it. The plan document is entirely in English.

The Visakhapatnam Metropolitan Region Master Plan is a long-term perspective plan for the region. If approved, it will become law in terms of a large area of 1,721 square kilometers of land. This region also includes the towns of Gajuwaka, Bheemunipatnam, Anakapalle and Vizianagaram interspersed with the rural areas.

All construction, infrastructure, acquisitions, displacements etc. will be governed by the plan till 2021 or until a new plan comes into existence. Given the importance of this plan document, it highly objectionable that it was published only in English and not in Telugu.

This, in effect, means that the plan document is not available to a majority, easily above 80 per cent of the population in the region, who can read and understand only Telugu. This amounts to insulting, misleading and cheating the common people of the region upon whose lives the implementation of the plan would impact in the near future.

It is worth mentioning here that several States in the country make available the draft master plan for objections and suggestions in the language which a majority of citizens understand. For example, Madhya Pradesh publishes the master plan in Hindi and in Maharashtra, citizens can access it in the Marathi language.

Making the Master Plan for VMR Perspective 2021 available exclusively in English, would mean that only the elite in the region put forth objections and suggestions, thus leaving out the majority from incorporating their views. This is unacceptable and we demand that VUDA publish the draft in Telugu at the earliest and invite for objections and suggestions. We seek a time frame of 3 months (90 days) from the date when the master plan document is made available in Telugu to the public, to file objections and suggestions.

The HRF appeals to democratic-minded citizens and organizations in the region to also react to this important issue so as to safeguard the rights of the people, particularly the poorer and marginalized sections. The press release on the above matter was signed by V.S.Krishna, spokes person, Human Rights Forum.

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