Hyderabad: It seems neither the state government nor the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has learned any lessons from the past. Though parts of the city get flooded every year whenever there is a little extra rainfall, the cause of this flooding – the encroachments on nalas which decreases their ability to carry off the extra water – is consistently ignored. The opposition too is not pressing for action of this kind.
Recently, municipal administration and urban development minister K. Taraka Rama Rao told the 66th National Town and Country Planners’ Congress that the government cannot implement the recommendations made by the expert committees, including the Kirloskar committee, calling such recommendations impractical.
An elected government cannot demolish 28,000 structures to widen the city’s nalas and expect to be re-elected again, he said, clearly showing where the priorities of the government lie. Senior Congress leader and former minister Marri Shashidhar Reddy said that Mr Taraka Rama Rao has not bothered to read the guidelines for urban flooding which were suggested during the Congress tenure. What has the government been doing all these years and has it held a single review meeting even on a basic measure like nala desilting, he queried. He said when government can widen the roads by destroying KBR Park, it can easily widen the city nalas to save the city from inundation.
“Stop thinking about the election and please provide relief to citizens,” Mr Shashidhar Reddy advised the government. MLC and BJP Greater Hyderabad president N. Ramchander Rao said that instead of removing encroachments on the nalas, the nalas can be realigned to minimise the demolitions. He said that the majority of those displaced will be from the middle class and poor. Experts have suggested that the nalas can be diverted through government open lands and underground pipelines. He said government must look for alternative proposals to minimise the damage.
CPM city secretary M. Srinivas said that the government has assured poor families who have lost their houses in the nala demolition drive that they will get 2BHK houses, but the government has done nothing of the sort. The government has issued pattas for lands on nalas according to GO 58 prior to the GHMC elections. But, after elections they demolished the houses on the same lands — the Kapra incident.
He said that the government has been making promises for the sake of electoral gains but not in order to find a solution to this issue. He said that the government shows double standards over the nala widening issue and will drag it on until the next general election.
Meanwhile, the GHMC has chalked out a plan to clear bottlenecks at nalas at 47 locations in the city where water flow gets impeded significantly leading to flooding of streets during the monsoon months. It has earmarked Rs 230 crore to dredge the nalas and widen them before the onset of the monsoon, but the plan has few takers. Six months into the plan, and the corporation has initiated work at only 15 locations. Not one contractor has evinced interest in bidding for tenders for work at 20 other locations.
The widening project has been on GHMC’s to-do list for the past two decades, but demolishing encroachments is a political hot potato and so political considerations inevitably win out over civic ones.