State has to clear any work costing more than Rs. 50 lakh; road widening hit

If legal tangles have put paid to GHMC's plan to acquire properties to widening the Begumpet road, procedural wrangles and budget limits is causing inordinate delays in few other places like the Lakidikapul road.

It took more than three years to take over the storm water drain near Pantaloons after protracted negotiations with the land owners and only by paying a hefty compensation much to the relief of scores of the daily commuters. But the Jabbar building litigation has put paid to any hopes of expediting widening on the stretch.

Story is quite different for widening Lakidikapul road where South Central Railway (SCR) is building another road over bridge over the railway line in addition to the existing one. The Municipal Corporation has managed to take over portion of land owned by the Intelligence wing; however, it is unable to take over private properties.

Land acquisition awards have been announced for at least six properties with payments running over Rs.50 lakh. Proposals have been put up to the standing committee followed by signing of minutes cleared at the next meeting. It was also taken to the general council meeting and minutes approved at its subsequent.

The proposals were sent to the government for clearance because under the existing Act, any work costing more than Rs.50 lakh has to get an official order to be issued before payments are made. Senior officials say that the entire process is taking a good six to eight months with delays at each stage.

Even if the standing committee meets every week, there is every chance of the proposal put off for next week whenever there is any other contentious subject in the agenda.

The council too is meeting once every three months at an average despite an overwhelming demand for a meeting every month.

Incidentally, it has not met ever since the then Commissioner Sameer Sharma walked out in a huff more than two months ago. It is also taking at least three months for GOs to be issued and there are eight pending ones already. “A growing city like ours cannot afford to allow so much time to clear key infrastructure works as it has a cascading affect,” pointed out senior officials.

Strangely, the Rs.50 lakh expenditure limit is confined to the mega municipal corporations of Hyderabad, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam only. “In small cities and towns functioning under the A.P. Municipalities Act there is no such expenditure limit,” explained senior officials.

The ceiling is also forcing officials to break up works into less than Rs.50 lakh bits to avoid sending proposals to the government. “Certain works involving high expenditure need big contractors for an effective job but…,” sigh senior officials.

They are hoping that the government would soon consider a few vital amendments on the anvil to the Municipal Corporation Act including the power to sanction works of upto Rs.25 crore, up from Rs.50 lakh to ensure timely executions of projects.

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