Vijayawada

Close to the city, but far from civic amenities

Rajeshwari waits for the truck to arrive with her furniture at her new house in Prasadampadu.

It turns out to be a long wait as the truck struggles to reach the end of the narrow lane in the area. The road is unpaved, and has turned muddy and treacherous after a few days of rain. Reversing the truck out of the narrow lane proves to be another challenge for the truck driver, who asks Rajeshwari to pay him a little more money for going the ‘extra distance’.

That this has become a common scenario for dozens of residents shifting base to Prasadampadu, a densely populated suburb less than a kilometre from the urban local body area, speaks volumes about the infrastructure in the capital city region.

‘No basic facilities’

Residents allege a dismal lack of basic municipal facilities in the area.

"We bought a house in the area long ago and shifted here just recently. But it is sad to see that the government has failed to put in place even basic facilities like roads," Ms. Rajeshwari says. Like her, many people are shifting to the suburbs after buying property there, only to later realise the extent of the civic problems in the area.

The expanse of Vijayawada, one of the most densely populated urban conglomerates, is steadily growing with more agriculture lands turning into residential colonies. Multistoreyed residential buildings dot the green pastures in the suburbs. But the development of public infrastructure in these areas has gone for a toss despite the mushrooming of houses.

At present, about 800 constructions, mostly apartments, are going on in and around the city. Several hundreds of apartments and group houses were built in the past few years in areas within the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation limits and its surroundings. Thousands of families moved to their newly-constructed homes in new colonies in these areas but have had no proper access to drinking water, underground drainage network or open drainage network, roads and other civic amenities for years.

No garbage disposal

"Apart from the lack of basic public infrastructure, we do not even have a provision to dump garbage. Forget about door to door collection, we have to find a place on our own to dump garbage and people are indiscriminately dumping in available vacant land even if it is amidst residences," says Ramu, a shopkeeper at Prasadampadu.

A similar situation prevails in every other new residential colony adjoining the established city area.

Nandamuri Nagar and Indira Nagar too, several apartments and individual houses came up recently but there is no proper road network.

"We had to chase the municipal corporation to lay drinking water pipeline for our apartment. We were forced to lay the pipeline at our own expense from the nearest VMC pipeline to the apartment and pay over a lakh to get approval and permission," says Kumar, a resident of Nandamuri Nagar near Ajith Singh Nagar.

In a recent case, an apartment society in Nunna panchayat limits close to VMC area sought a water connection citing lack of proper drinking water sources.

While the engineering and town planning officials approved the request and allowed the society to draw water from VMC’s plant nearby, the municipal council rejected permission claiming that the city itself has no proper water supply and that sharing it with panchayat areas would be unjust.

Appeals go in vain

Mr. Swamy recalls that a local MLA once made a proposal to the government to maintain a separate account for the taxes and charges collected towards betterment and development charges and ensure that they are spent only for developing civic infrastructure locally.

He says that the builders have recently appealed to the Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development Botcha Satyanarayana about the issue of civic infrastructure. The Minister is expected to conduct a detailed review with the officials and builders’ associations concerned.

In some areas, construction of a stormwater drainage system has come as an additional trouble due to poor planning and execution.

Construction of the drains in many areas has been stopped due to various obstacles including apartments that were built overlapping the plan of stormwater drain. As a result, the entire drain network and the pits dug for it have been filled with rainwater, turning into breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Residents hope that the problems would go away with the announcement of Greater Vijayawada, which as a municipal corporation would cover about 19 mandals surrounding the city. However, in view of upcoming municipal elections, the proposal has reportedly been put on the backburner.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2021 9:48:22 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Vijayawada/close-to-the-city-but-far-from-civic-amenities/article28775793.ece

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