Civic chief envisions transformation of city

Municipal Commissioner J. Nivas speaking to The Hindu at his camp office in Vijayawada.

Municipal Commissioner J. Nivas speaking to The Hindu at his camp office in Vijayawada.  

‘Right time to take steps and turn it into a proper extension to the capital city’

City’s Municipal Commissioner J. Nivas, who took charge on May 10, started going around the city from day one. After taking stock of the urban infrastructure, topography and other issues and understanding the people and municipal employees of all levels for almost three weeks, Mr. Nivas now has a clear picture of what the city could be turned into and the potential it has to become a perfect extension to the state’s upcoming capital Amaravati. In an interview with The Hindu, Mr. Nivas reveals his plans to deal with the problems that have been plaguing the city for a long time.

What are your observations of the city after weeks of city tours?

Interestingly, the city has lively canals which are not found in any other cities. I felt the city can be controlled in all ways. It is not like Mumbai or Delhi, it is clear on all parts and sections. This is the right time to take steps and turn it into a proper extension to the capital city.

How are you going to streamline garbage collection?

One thing I have observed is the city had better infrastructure earlier. Unfortunately, over the years it became defunct. There were over 500 dumper bins earlier, now only 378 are useful. There is a need to increase the number of bins and also transport vehicles. The focus is on improving such infrastructure.

Encroachments on the roads?

We have a dire necessity of footpaths. In Eluru road, we have less than a feet wide paths for pedestrians. Construction of ramps will not be tolerated and those obstructing drains will be removed without any second thought. M.G. Road is hawker free but even though we have provided footpaths, pedestrians are walking on the roads because of the cables lying on the footpaths.

How are you going to deal with tax default?

Property and water tax collection is fine. But more than defaulting, timely tax collection has become a major problem. Many Central government institutions are not paying tax since long. I have written to them too. They can get waiver up to 50%, even if we get the rest we will get huge income. We can’t stop any supply to them as per the rules. The new initiative to sensitise VLT defaulters is working and we are hopeful that more will come forward to pay pending taxes.

What about the 24x7 drinking water supply?

The pilot project of 24x7 supply of drinking water to 19 divisions is in the pipeline. We are trying to make it a viable model for the public. We are keen on this and door-to-door garbage collection projects as a lot of experiments have been done on these projects earlier.

Do you think privatisation of sanitation maintenance helps?

Privatisation will help us on the part. Secondly, if the government takes the burden of paying salaries to employees under 010 head account the corporation will be relieved of a huge burden. Even 50% help from the state government will be a great help. I have recently written to the authorities concerned regarding it.

How do you plan to develop parks?

We have short-term plans to develop parks at a cost of ₹1 lakh per park. We have identified about 25 parks in the city that will be refurbished with necessary greenery and paraphernalia for children. The problem is we have poor patronage for parks here. Even on Sunday, there would not be much crowd in the Rajiv Gandhi Park. Once people start walking into parks, all other elements will go off.

Where are slum rehabilitation and urban housing projects up to?

We have identified land parcels and project reports are being prepared to raise multi-storeyed houses. We require about 80,000 units to rehabilitate people living in 103 slums and canal bund areas. The government has sanctioned 10,000 units as of now. Existing units will be given to beneficiaries as soon as legal tangles are solved.

What are your priorities for city development?

Beautification of the city, streamlining garbage transportation, ensuring segregated garbage collection and providing more pedestrian spaces are the four things I have set to focus on.

As for beautification, apart from canals, I have planned for next level of wall paintings by bringing in professional artists. It will be soon revealed in detail. A little effort in streamlining the garbage collection will set things right and make city eco-friendly too.

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Printable version | Feb 20, 2020 1:56:57 PM |

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