While most Gram Panchayats are opposing merger into the GHMC, the stiffest resistance could be from residents and politicians of Shamshabad. After witnessing exponential growth in recent times and with the international airport in its territory, the bone of contention for resisting the merger move is the sharing of revenue.

Generally, most people have a notion that with real estate business and the international airport, Shamshabad Panchayat will get more revenues, but that was not the case.

Special municipal centre

The international airport has been classified into a special municipality centre by the government, and not a single penny is being paid to Shamshabad Panchayat, fumes R. Ganesh Gupta, who has the distinction of being the last sarpanch of Shamshabad.

The Gram Panchayat has a population of about 40,000, of which the majority are from the low-income group. They live in 3,000 small houses constructed in 70 to 100 yards. Those living in 150 to 200 yard houses pay an annual tax of Rs. 2,500, and merger means the tax going up exponentially. This is what happened with the neighbouring Rajendranagar area, and the residents are strongly opposing this, points out Mr. Gupta.

No home loans

The worst thing is that Shamshabad comes under the purview of GO 111 Bio-conservation of Catchment Area, and no home loans are sanctioned to the residents.

If the GHMC can address these issues and continue with the existing tax rates and water cess for about 10 to 15 years, it will be beneficial to the residents, he adds.

Provision of basic amenities will be the key issue. The Shamshabad Civil Hospital was defunct for several years, and the residents exerted pressure on the panchayat, following which a temporary hospital is being operated at the mini stadium premises. But once the panchayat is merged, there will be no accountability, and people will be made to run from pillar to post to get birth, death and valuation certificates in GHMC circle offices, observes Siddhartha, an MBA graduate. “The authorities should consider making Shamshabad first into a municipality and give a transitional period for people to get used to the rules of municipalities.

“Considering that the erstwhile municipalities that merged into the Municipal Corporation are yet to get basic amenities like roads and drinking water, the government does not seem to have learnt a lesson,” says Dr. Prem Raj, BJP state executive member.

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