Five years after launch of work, BRTS awaits completion

More than five years after launching work on the much-publicised Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) in two corridors covering 43 km, the city still awaits its completion and the promised intelligent transport system (ITS) that provides an efficient, affordable, and safe mass transport.

The two corridors are taken up under the Centrally-sponsored Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) at an estimated cost of Rs.454.73 crore. It was originally scheduled for completion by January 2011.

The delay is mainly attributed to land acquisition from Defence establishments and the Railways, and over 2,100 private properties. Shifting Ramakrishnapuram village on the Simhachalam corridor and acquiring private properties in the busy Asilmetta area also contributed to the delay.

The flyover and subway are commissioned, but service roads are yet to be completed.

Financial problems

Till a few months ago, financial problems also dogged the project with delay in release of funds by the State and Central governments.

Work on pipelines, cables is going on in the Defence and Railway lands on the 23.24-km Pendurti Transit Corridor in which 85 per cent of the total work is completed.

On the 17.8-km Simhachalam corridor, issues relating to compensation to 250 properties along 1.5 km between Adavivaram and Gosala are yet to be resolved.

The properties are on the land belonging to the Sri Varaha Lakshmi Nrusimha Swamy Devasthanam.

Deadlock

The deadlock over compensation and transferable development rights has to be resolved before work is taken up there.

The GVMC has written to the MA&UD Department to find a way out. On another 0.5-km at Gosala, an agreement was reached with the devasthanam by transferring equal extent of land to it.

For more than a year now, on a stretch of 25-km of corridor, city buses are plying. But work of barricading, erecting signals etc. is still going on at several places, including the busy Resapuvanipalem and Rama Talkies junctions. But for BRTS to translate into an efficient transport system, the entire stretch has to be commissioned first by completing physical infrastructure.

Though this is scheduled for completion by July, it is unlikely to be met, say sources.

Only 38 out of the 76 bus stops have been constructed. A ticketing system and, most importantly, buses running on specified timings with real time display have to be introduced, making Intelligent Transport System (ITS) a reality.

This is expected to be in place in phases only after the physical infrastructure is completed.

To handle all this, a special purpose vehicle (SPV), Visakhapatnam Urban Transport Company (VUTCO), has been formed with the district Collector as Chairman and the Municipal Commissioner as CEO. It has representatives of the RTC, the police, VUDA, and RTA as directors.

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