Sumit Bhattacharjee

VISAKHAPATNAM: The Greater Visakha Municipal Corporation seems to be on track with the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) programmes.

GVMC Commissioner Mukesh Kumar Meena told The Hindu that the total outlay was for Rs. 1,200 crores and the corporation was expected to raise 30 per cent of it, about Rs. 400 crores. GVMC has plans to raise half of the required amount from its own resources.

“We have lined up three methods: the first is from our resources, the other is by floating bonds and the last option is to go in for loans from scheduled banks. When we talk of own resources, it means improving and increasing the tax earnings. Last year we got Rs. 50 crores from property tax and this year’s target is Rs. 100 crores. And we would be doing it by collecting taxes from corporate bodies like Visakhapatnam Steel Plant and increasing the tax on non-residential complexes from 75 to 100 per cent. This would bring an additional revenue of Rs.34 crores. Similarly, we have increased the water tax for industrial consumers. The hike was from Rs.15 to Rs.20 on raw water and Rs.25 to 30 on filtered water. The target is to earn another Rs. 20 crores from the water tax. Moreover, we have to raise the funds within the JNNURM project period of seven years starting from 2005,” he said.

The commissioner confirmed that negotiations are on with Delhi-based investment bankers Darashaw for floating bonds. “Almost everything is finalised. We have to only decide whether the bonds would be tax-free or taxable or a combination of both. The issue would be for Rs. 100 crores,” he informed.

Underground drainage

He also sounded optimistic about the UGD (underground drainage) and the accessibility of clean drinking water and said, “By the next three years the entire area of greater Visakha would be covered by UGD and people will have access to clean drinking water. The One Town is already covered with UGD at a cost of Rs. 40 crores and another Rs. 240 crores has been sanctioned for the central part of the city. In addition, there is a proposal to cover Gajuwaka and the 32 newly merged panchayats under the UGD scheme at an estimated cost of Rs. 650 crores. We also have a sanction of Rs.210 crores for drinking water projects and that would be utilised in the next three years appropriately,” said Mr. Meena.

On housing projects under the JNNURM, he said 15,000 houses had been sanctioned at a cost of Rs.189 crores out of which tenders were floated for 6,000 houses and work is under progress for 2,000 houses at Kommadi.