The Metro Rail project execution model is what civic departments like the GHMC wish to emulate for taking up vital repairs to primary and secondary storm water drains crisscrossing the capital.
“The August 2000 floods had clearly shown that storm water drains have to be remodelled with the widening and deepening of channels. Encroachments removal, relief and rehabilitation package for affected families, re-channelling sewer lines and industrial effluents should be a top priority,” say senior Municipal officials.
They have a good reason to look up to the Metro Rail construction mode currently under way along 26 km of the total 72 km in two of the three traffic corridors of twin cities connecting L.B.Nagar-Miyapur; Secunderabad-Old city and Nagole-Hi-tec City.
“The Metro Rail project schedule is being monitored by the Chief Secretary regularly, with various department heads part of the coordinating team, hence they have been able to make good progress,” the officials point out.
Of course, Metro Rail construction, too, faces similar issues as property acquisition is yet to begin on a few stretches. Besides, the authorities have to tackle shifting of cables and pipelines of power firms, Water Board, Telecom and so on, while it also has to fly across or move alongside flyovers and railway lines on the alignment route.
Sheet hard rock is another stumbling block while digging for piers (pillars), and since explosives cannot be used in the city, hand chiselling is the only way, says Hyderabad Metro Rail Managing Director N.V.S. Reddy.
A special committee to negotiate with property owners and to offer liberal compensation for properties lost in acquisition, even for encroachments on government lands with the nomenclature of Government Vested Municipal (GVM) properties, construction of shopping complexes, offices and other buildings to provide alternate accommodation have all helped, it is said.
“In removing encroachments on storm water drains, we have been offering structural compensation only for partially affected properties and houses for those totally affected in the colonies taken up under the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) on the outskirts if they have ‘pattas’,” say senior engineers.
Not having a separate land acquisition unit or a designated committee with negotiating powers as is done for road widening are other stumbling blocks.
However, GHMC Commissioner M.T. Krishna Babu has managed to convince the government to enhance the tender value up to 10 per cent in excess to attract contractors, houses for evacuees and Rs.10, 000 as subsistence allowance for six months for those to be shifted. It is hoped this could get the works moving.