Visakhapatnam District is one of the North Eastern Coastal districts of Andhra Pradesh and it lies between 17o - 15' and 18o-32' Northern latitude and 18o - 54' and 83o - 30' in Eastern longitude. It is bounded on the North partly by the Orissa State and partly by Vizianagaram District, on the South by East Godavari District, on the West by Orissa State and on the East by Bay of Bengal.
HISTORICAL ASPECTS AND ETYMOLOGY
Inscriptions indicate that the District was originally a part of Kalinga Kingdom subsequently conquered by the Eastern Chalukyas in the 7th Century, A.D. who ruled over it with their Head Quarters at Vengi. This District was also under the occupation of various rulers such as the Reddy Rajahs of Kondaveedu, the Gajapathis of Orissa, the Nawabs of Golkonda and the Moghal Emperor Aurangazeb through a Subedar. This territory passed on to French occupation in view of succession dispute among Andhra Kings and finally it came under the British Reign. There were no geographical graftings till 1936 in which year, consequent on the formation of Orissa State the Taluks namely Bissiom, Cuttack, Jayapore, Koraput, Malkanagiri, Naurangapur, Pottangi and Ryagada in their entirety and parts of Gunpur, Paduva and Parvathipur Taluks were transferred to Orissa State. The Visakhapatnam District was reconstituted with the remaining area and residuary portions of Ganjam District namely Sompeta, Tekkali and Srikakulam Taluks in entirety and portion of Parlakimidi, Ichchapuram, Berahmpur retained in Madras presidency. With the passage of time, the reconstituted District was found administratively unwieldy and therefore it was bifurcated into Srikakulam and Visakhapatnam districts in the year 1950. The residuary district of Visakhapatnam was further bifurcated and the Taluks of Vizianagaram, Gajapathinagaram, Srungavarapukota and portion of Bheemunipatnam Taluk were transferred to the newly created Vizianagaram District in the year 1979.
Coming to etymology of the name Visakhapatnam, tradition has it that some centuries ago a King of Andhra Dynasty encamped on the site of the present Head Quarters Town of Visakhapatnam on his piligrimage to Banaras and being pleased with the place, had built a shrine in honour of his family deity called Visakeswara to the South of the Lawson’s Bay from which the district has derived its name as Visakheswarapuram which subsequently changed to Visakhapatnam. The encroachment of waves and currents of the sea supposed to have swept away the shrine into off shore area.
The District presents two distinct Geographic divisions. The strip of the land along the coast and the interior called the plains division and hilly area of the Eastern Ghats flanking it on the North and West called the Agency Division. The Agency Division consists of the hilly regions covered by the Eastern Ghats with an altitutde of about 900 metres dotted by several peaks exceeding 1200 metres. Sankaram Forest block topping with 1615 metres embraces the Mandals of Paderu, G. Madugula, Pedabayalu, Munchingput, Hukumpeta, Dumbriguda, Araku Valley, Ananthagiri, Chinthapalli, G.K. Veedhi, and Koyyuru erstwhile Paderu, Araku Valley and Chinthapalli taluks in entirety. Machkhand River which on reflow becomes Sileru, drains and waters the area in its flow and reflow and is tapped for Power Generation. The other division is the plains division with altitude no where exceeding 75 metres watered and drained by Sarada, Varaha and Thandava Rivers and rivulets Meghadrigedda and Gambheeramgedda. Since no major Irrigation system exists significant sub regional agronomic variations exist in this division. Along the shore lies a series of salt and sandy swamps. The coast line is broken by a number of bald head lands, the important of them being the Dolphin's Nose which had afforded the establishment of Natural Harbour at Visakhapatnam, Rushikonda(v) Polavaram Rock and the big Narasimha Hill at Bheemunipatnam. Administratively, the District is divided into 3 Revenue Divisions and 43 Mandals.
The population of the district is 38.32 lakhs as per 2001 Census and this constituted 5.0% of the population of the state while the Geographical area of the District is 11161 Sq. KM. which is only 4.1% of the area of the State. Out of the total population 19.30 lakhs are Males and 19.02 lakhs are Females. The Sex Ratio is 985 Females per 1000 Males. The District has Density of population of 343 per Sq.Km. Agency area shows lesser Density and plain area higher density. 39.90% of the population resides in the 10 Hierarchic urban settlements while rest of the population is distributed in 3082 villages. Scheduled Castes constituted 7.60% of the population while Scheduled Tribes account for 14.55% of the population of the district. The district has a work force of 16.03 lakhs constituting about 41.83 of the population besides the marginal workers to a tune of 2.97 lakhs as per 2001 Census. The cultivators constitute 36.31% Agricultural Labourers 23.60% and the balance of 40.09% engage in Primary, Secondary and Territory sectors as per 1991 census.
There are 20.02 lakhs literates forming 52.25% of the total population of the District. Male literates constitute 69.7% while female literates forming 50.1%. The literacy rate is 60.0% in the District.
The district has differing climatic conditions in different parts of it. Near Coast the air is moist and relaxing, but gets warmer towards the interior and cools down in the hilly areas on account of elevation and vegetation. April to June is warmest months. The Temperature (at Visakhapatnam Airport) gets down with the onset of South West Monsoon and tumbles to a mean minimum of 21.0o C by December after which there is reversal trend till the temperature reaches mean maximum of 32.6o C by the end of May during 2006-2007.
The District receives annual normal rainfall of 1202 MM, of which south-west monsoon accounts for 72.0% of the normal while North-East monsoon contributes 13.9% of the normal rainfall during 2006-2007. The rest is shared by summer showers and winter rains. Agency and inland Mandals receive larger rainfall from the South West Monsoon, while Coastal Mandals get similarly larger rainfall from North-East monsoon.
Red Loamy soils predominate with coverage of 69.9% of the villages of the district. The Soils are poor textured and easily drained. Sandy loamy soils come next with 19.2% villages coverage, largely confined to the coastal areas of Nakkapalli, Payakaraopeta, S.Rayavaram, Rambilli, Atchutapuram, Paravada, Visakhapatnam, Pedagantyada, Gajuwaka and Bheemunipatnam Mandals and to certen streches in the interior Mandals of Chodavaram, Narsipatnam, K.Kotapadu and Madugula. Black cotton soils come up next having sizeable chunks of area in K.Kotapadu, Devarapalli, Cheedikada, Paderu and Hukumpeta Mandals. 45% of the soils in the district are low in organic content and 55% in Phosphorous content.
The total geographical area of the district is 11.16 lakh hectares of this 36.45% alone is arable area while 39.53% is forest area. The rest is distributed among "Barren and uncultivable land" about 11.7% and "Land put to non agricultural uses" about 9.0%. Out of the arable area, the net area sowed form 27.2% while cultivable waste and fallow (current and old) lands constitute about 9.2% during 2006-2007.
FLORA AND FAUNA
More than the one third of the area in the District is covered by forest. The forests are of moist and dry deciduous type. The common species available in them are Guggilam, Tangedu, Sirimanu, Kamba, Yagisa, Nallamaddi, Gandra, Vepa etc. Bamboo shurbs are sparsely scattered. But forest area in the district has been showing a quiescent pecline since 1955-56 perhaps due to podu practice, indiscriminate grazing and browsing. To stem this, regeneration programmes are being carried out. Chinthapalli Teak Plantation is an off shoot of this. The latest caper in this regeneration programme is rising of Teak, Silver trees, coffee plantations, as the agency areas are found suitable agronomically for coffee growth. Coffee plantations have been raised in about 10000 Acres in Chinthapalli, Minimuluru, Devarapalli and Ananthagiri regions by different agencies for different purposes. By the forest Department to conserve soil, by the Coffee board to evolve cultures suited to on-traditional areas and by the Girijan Corporation and the I.T.D.A. to wean out tribals from the pernicious practices of "Podu Cultivation.”
Regarding fauna the district has a livestock of 12.02 lakhs as per 2003 livestock Census. In the Livestock, Cattle 29.4% Buffaloes 34.8% Sheep 16.5% and Goats 17.3% about wild fauna Boars and Bisons are found in Forest areas of the district and isolated instances of Cheetas and tigers.
Agriculture is the main stray of nearly 70% of the households. Though Visakhapantam city is industrially developing, the rural areas continued to be backward. Rice is a staple food of the people and Paddy is therefore the principal food crop of the district followed by Ragi, Bajra and Jowar and Cash Crops such as Sugarcane, Groundnut, Sesamum Niger and Chillies are important. Since there is no Major Irrigation system, only about 36% of the cropped area is irrigated under the Ayacut of the Medium Irrigation System and Mimnor Irrigation Tanks. The rest of the cultivated area is covered under dry crops depending upon the vagaries of the monsoon. The productivity of the crops is low.
Animal Husbandry is an important allied economic activity to Agriculture. Next to draught Animals which are main source of energy for Agriculture, Milch Animals, Sheep and Goat are important for income generation of the rural households. A sizable number of households earn subsidary income by selling milk to Visakha Dairy and in Local markets. The total livestock of the district is 12.02 lakhs of which working animals account for 2.14 lakhs while milch Animals account for 3.10 lakhs. Goats and Sheeps totalling upto 4.06 lakhs are important for the livelihood of the considerable population.
It is another important economic activity of the fishermen population living in about 59 fishery villages and hamlets on coastline stretching to a length of 132 KMs. covering 11 coastal mandals. About 13,000 fishermen families to ekeout their livelihood from marine, Inland and brakish water fishing besides catching fish living around Thandava and Raiwada reservoyers.
The District has mineral deposits of Bauxite Apatite (Rock Phosphate) Calcite, Crystaline limestone confined to tribal tracts. Bauxite deposits at Sapparla, Jerrila and Gudem of G.K.Veedhi Mandal are considered to be the largest in the country. Bauxite deposits are also identified at Galikonda, Katuki, Chittemgodndi of Araku group deposits, Katamrajukonda of Gurthedu sub-group of deposits. Phosphate Apatite is avilable in Kasipatnam village of Ananthagiri mandal. Rich deposits of Crystaline limestone and Calcite are mapped in Borra Caves and along the Valley up to Araku from Borra and around Valasi village of Ananthagiri mandal. Ruby Mica is another mineral available in the District essential for electrical and electronic industries. The mineral occurs in the form of Phologopite and is confined to Borra tract.
Quartz is another mineral found mostly in Bheemunipatnam, Padmanabham, Devarapalli, K.Kotapadu and Ananthagiri mandals. Vermiculate found near Kasipatnam of Ananthagiri mandal. Clay deposits near Malivalasa of Araku mandal are identified. Limeshell useful for manufacture of chemical grade lime is also available in the district. Red and Yellow ochre deposits are also identified in Araku and Ananthagiri mandals.
Industrial Development is conspicuous in Visakhapatnam urban agglomeration with the large scale industries like Hindustan Shipyard, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation, Coromandal Fertilisers, Bharat Heavy Plates and Vessels, L.G.Polymers Ltd., Hindustan Zinc Plant and the recent giant Visakhapatnam Steel Plant and a host of other ancillary Industries. The Visakhapatnam Steel Plant is the biggest with an authorised share capital of Rs.7466 crores with a licenced capacity of 2.8 Million Tonnes of salable steel 3.0 Million Tonnes of Pig Iron and 8.32 lakhs Tonnes of By product. About 25,000 persons expected to be employed. The project has provided employment to 16300 persons. On the country side the agro based industries like Sugar Factories, Jute Mills and Rice Mills are there besides brick and tile units. The District has 1063 registered factories under factories Act functioning with a working force of about 77203 persons during 2006-2007.
Power consumption by industries is 43.669 Million KWH while it is 46.052 for Agricultural purposes. All 3,335 villages in the District have been electrified including solar power system during 2006-2007.
The District has a Road length of 6922 kms. Of which the National Highway 5 runs to a length of 134.28 KMs. State Highways at a length of 343 KMs. And the balance forms the roads maintained by Roads and Buildings, Zilla Praja Parishad and Mandal Praja Parishads.
The number of Vehicles registered during 2006-2007 is 550737 of which 457012 are Motor Cycles. There are 647 Post Offices, 25 Telegraph Offices and 96 Telephone Exchanges with 146114 telephone connections in the District.
EDUCATIONAL AND MEDICAL FACILITIES
There are 3093 Primary Schools with 2.16 lakhs children on enrolment, 686 Upper Primary Schools with an enrolment of 1.22 lakhs 578 High Schools with 2.02 lakhs pupils on roll, 68 Junior, Degree and Professional Institutions with 0.46 lakhs students during 2006-2007.
Regarding Medical facilities, there are 164 Government Hospitals and dispensaries both Allopathic and Indian Medicine with 2819 bed-strength and 634 Doctors.
There are 350 Bank Branches including Cooperative Banks in the district to look after the credit needs of the people.