India's first smart city Vizag - a British corruption of Visakhapatnam - has been waiting for a long, long time for its moment in the sun.
According to newspaper reports, Cisco Systems has informed N. Chandrababu Naidu, the chief minister of the residuary Andhra Pradesh, that Visakhapatnam would be the first city in the country to be taken up for development as a "Smart City". A hundred such cities are being planned all over the country by the Narendra Modi government.
Naidu said Vizag has great potential to transform into a financial, IT powerhouse and a logistics hub.
Actually, this is not the first time grand plans have been drawn up for Vizag. From steel plants to three IT SEZs, industrial and pharmaceuticals parks, massive residential property complexes, Vizag has seen everything... but the promised future. Despite much talk, it never made it as the capital of the residuary Andhra Pradesh after Hyderabad went to Telangana.
As Sheela Reddy wrote in 'Harbour of Hope' in Outlook in 2010, Vizag has been waiting for its destiny for over a century now.
"For the last couple of years, from 7 pm to 10 pm, herds of buffaloes, tractors, trucks carrying iron rods, white Honda Citys rigged out in bouquets of roses, auto-rickshaws, petrol tankers, Audis, Volkswagens, Skodas, bikers, cyclists and hundreds of schoolchildren returning home from the city's famed cramming schools spill out on the main artery that connects the expectant suburbs to an old town that has been waiting for its destiny for more than a century now.
"Visakhapatnam has a beautiful future," explains a senior government official, S. Satyanarayana, uncannily echoing the words of the British dam builder, General Sir Arthur Thomas Cotton, who prepared the earliest design for the Visakhapatnam port nearly 200 years ago, declaring the little fishing town with its natural harbour as "the city of the future".
Has the jinx been finally broken?