The district administration is racing ahead with development schemes, aided by the civic bodies, particularly the Guntur Municipal Corporation.
GUNTUR district, located south of the perennial Krishna river in Andhra Pradesh, is making big strides in all fields, including agriculture and education. The district is unique for its contrasting geographical terrain - from fertile wetlands to rocky dry lands to thick forest cover. It has abundant natural resources and is covered by a vast network of irrigation canals.
Guntur, with a rich cultural heritage, has a century-old history as a modern revenue district.
A miniature State by itself, Guntur district stretches over 200 kilometres to the west from the coast, up to the juncture of the Eastern Ghats and the Deccan Plateau, and is bound by the Krishna in the west and the north. Managing the day-to-day affairs of a land of contrasting economic and social interests is no mean task, but District Collector G. Jayalakshmi does it with lan.
Implementing welfare and development schemes is a Herculean task in an area notorious for naxalite activity. It requires good human resource management skills to coordinate the activities of several inter-related departments in the remote areas. Special attention has been given to implementing the Remote and Interior Area Development Programme for the Palnadu region (western parts) in order to wean youth away from extremist activity.
Implementing the State government's prestigious Indiramma programme is another challenge, which the district administration took up to achieve comprehensive development. The first phase of the programme was successfully completed over the last year. "In the second phase, we are concentrating on providing shelter to all eligible persons; we are involving officials to ensure that pensions reach every eligible person," Jayalakshmi said.
Ensuring good returns from chilli and cotton cultivation is one of the greatest challenges. The Krishna is a boon for Guntur district but a bane for the delta region during the monsoon season when sleepless nights are spent planning and manning teams for rescue and rehabilitation work.
The Guntur Municipal Corporation (GMC) aids the district administration to improve the civic amenities in the city, which is a seat of learning as well as a hub of trade. The GMC has a state-of-the-art 45 mld (million litres per day) filtration plant to ensure drinking water supply in abundance.
Municipal Commissioner D. Rama Rao told Frontline that providing water 24x7 was not a distant dream any more; the old filtration plant of 45 mld capacity is being revamped and will be ready by early summer. Meanwhile, another pipeline being laid now will bring 10 mgd (million gallons per day) of water into the city by the end of summer. Engineers use the Global System for Mobile technology to monitor water levels in the reservoirs and the inflow and outflow at filtration plants.
The European Union-funded eco-budget project is being implemented in Guntur (in collaboration with the Italian city of Bologna) to make it one of the few towns in Andhra Pradesh that can boast of 100 per cent clearance of garbage. Efforts are also on to organise its safe disposal through proper segregation at the generation point.
Switching over to wireless technology in the Metropolitan Area Network has helped de-centralise the tax collection process. Moreover, it can now be done online. This has enabled better revenue monitoring in the past two years and has significantly improved the finances of the GMC.
Grievance redress is just a toll-free call away for citizens now. Installed a couple of months ago, the system means that a resident just needs to dial `103' to lodge a complaint; the telephone operator takes down the complaint and gives the complainant a docket number. The computer immediately sends an SMS to the local engineer. If the grievance remains unattended for 24 hours, it sends an SMS to the Divisional Engineer. After 72 hours, an alert goes to the Commissioner. The accountability fixed at each level has expedited the grievance redress process.