The Telangana government’s reported move to develop Khammam as a ‘smart city’ has rekindled hopes among denizens of the fund-starved Municipal Corporations taking up the development of requisite civic amenities, including an underground drainage system and proper road infrastructure.
It has also raised the prospect of Khammam’s inclusion in the list of 100 proposed smart cities to be constructed in the country, a project mooted by the Central Government as part of its new urban development programme.
The State Government’s assertion came at a time when the corporation is beset with a multitude of civic problems, particularly the shortage of drinking water. More than a year-and-a-half after being upgraded as a municipal corporation, the town is plagued by poor infrastructure. Several areas, including various colonies under the old municipal town limits, and most of the merged villages, are yet to be covered under piped water supply.
The corporation’s functioning had taken a severe beating owing to the absence of an elected body since its formation in 2012. Financial constraints – funds were on hold in the aftermath of Andhra Pradesh’s bifurcation – had been a major hurdle to the speedy completion of whatever work remained of the Drinking Water Augmentation Project.
The project was sanctioned under the Urban Infrastructure Development in Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT) scheme at a cost of Rs.43 crore in 2012 to supply of 43 million litres a day (MLD) to the town. Work on the main components of the project, including a filtration plant and a few reservoirs, had almost been completed.
Although the work on the 12 lakh litre capacity elevated level balancing reservoir atop Ramanagutta hillock is nearing completion, a major component of the pipeline works were reportedly held up for want of funds. The civic body is currently supplying 31.76 MLD of drinking water in the town as against the actual requirement of over 50 MLD to serve the needs of the 3.7 lakh population residing within corporation limits.
Tenders for preparing the Detailed Project Report for a comprehensive water supply scheme with Munneru river and NSP canal as source for the newly-merged areas of the corporation were called a few months ago. But the process has been held up due to some technical reasons.
Khammam MLA Puvvada Ajay Kumar had sent a letter to Union Minister for Urban Development M. Venkaiah Naidu in August, seeking the inclusion of Khammam in the Centre-sponsored smart cities project. Citing the transfer of seven mandals encompassing vast natural resources and the Mothugudem-based 460 MW hydro-electric project to residuary Andhra Pradesh, Mr. Ajay Kumar wanted the Centre to include Khammam in its prestigious “smart cities” project as a “compensatory gesture”.
He also called on Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao in Hyderabad recently, urging him to take the proposal forward with the Centre. Khammam, the headquarters of the predominantly tribal-populated district, is a gateway to the successor State of AP and Chhattisgarh, he said.
The civic corporation has already forwarded to the government proposals for the development of infrastructure, including roads, storm-water drains, underground drainage system, water supply improvement scheme, outer ring road and parks at an estimated cost of Rs.1,285 crore.
Inclusion of Khammam in the “smart cities” project will help overcome the infrastructure deficiencies and address the housing, drinking water and other civic problems of residents of the town, Mr Ajay asserted.
The civic body had earlier submitted a preliminary project report to the government for development of Khammam as a smart city, Collector K. Ilambarithi said. The report is under the perusal of the government, he said, adding that top priority has been accorded to complete the water augmentation project at the earliest.