Aiming high

Print edition : July 27, 2007

Work in progress on a water tank.-

With a slew of civic infrastructure projects, Vijayawada is set to enter the league of big cities.

LIKE any other growing city, Vijayawada, despite being the third largest in Andhra Pradesh, has its share of problems relating to water supply, underground drainage, storm water drains, solid waste management, roads and other civic amenities. With its limited financial resources, the Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) was unable to take up any major civic infrastructure scheme until it found a solution in the form of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), kick-started by the Centre in December 2005. Its inclusion in the JNNURM list of 63 cities and towns in the country has enabled Vijayawada to take up a slew of projects.

"Now our goal is to have the necessary infrastructure to supply drinking water and provide an underground drainage [UGD] connection to every household by 2009," says VMC Commissioner Natarajan Gulzar. "Laying good roads, giving individual water connections, putting in place a UGD network and constructing side drains in all 146 slums in the city are also high on our agenda." The VMC plans to spend Rs.400 crore on this.

The VMC has tapped Rs.800 crore of the JNNURM funds for its water supply and sewerage projects, roads and public transport, and housing and slum development. Of this, it would be spending Rs.108 crore for water supply, Rs.100 crore for UGD and Rs.190 crore for the Basic Services for Urban Poor (BSUP) project, a sub-mission under the JNNURM, for a cluster of development work in slums.

Vijayawada is on the list of the top five or six cities that have got the maximum amount of money under the JNNURM from the Centre. In addition, it will receive funds under the Andhra Pradesh Urban Reforms and Municipal Services Project (APURMSP).

Senior citizens of Vijayawada say the beehives of activity that several parts of the city have become now represent a refreshing change from the olden days when even minor works took long to complete. Significantly, the slogan that the VMC has adopted in its silver jubilee year is: "The City on the Fast Track".

Officials of the VMC point out that nearly 1.5 lakh people of 51,000 families living in slums would benefit once the BSUP projects are completed. They have identified 85 slums in the city for a clutch of works. While three project works have been completed in the slums, 29 works worth Rs.12.69 crore are in progress. Two more works worth Rs.77.13 crore will be taken up after tenders are finalised. Another set of proposals involving Rs.92 crore is awaiting clearance from New Delhi. The slums are spread on the banks of the Krishna river and its canals, and the Corporation has rehabilitated 26,000 people from road margins and canal berms to constructed houses.

The VMC is already supplying 39 million gallons a day (MGD) of protected drinking water, with a per capita consumption of 157 litres. In addition to the existing 48 reservoirs, the construction of 21 more is in progress. It is hopeful of putting to use 69 reservoirs by 2009 and supplying 50 MGD of water to its residents. At present, the water supply network covers only 70 per cent of the city; it is expected to touch 90 per cent once the ongoing projects are complete. Officials are preparing a detailed project report (DPR) to ensure that there is 100 per cent water supply in the city.

Natarajan Gulzar, Vijayawada Municipal Commissioner.-

As many as 3.2 lakh people will have access to safe drinking water once the 30-km network of pipes and five reservoirs under construction at an investment of Rs.35.48 crore under the JNNURM project called Water supply in un-served areas are completed. Another project, Augmentation of water source and network, will benefit three lakh people when 13 reservoirs and an 80-km network are completed.

The VMC proposes to implement round-the-clock water supply; a proposal to meter all domestic water connections is one of the components of the 24x7 project. There are apprehensions among political parties and citizens about a likely steep increase in tariff. However, the VMC says that an average middle-class household consumes no more than 100 kilolitres a month for all its basic needs, which can be taken as a benchmark to fix the minimum tariff. Commissioner Gulzar points out that metering connections will prevent wastage of water in the event of round-the-clock supply.

As its other mega project, the VMC proposes to construct two 40 million litres a day (MLD) sewage treatment plants (STPs) in the city. The city at present has STPs at Ramalingeswara Nagar and Autonagar with a capacity of 10 MLD each. An STP constructed at Ajit Singh Nagar in 1965 will be upgraded from 32-MLD to 40-MLD at an estimated Rs.9.49 crore. Areas such as Gunadala, Khuddus Nagar, H.B. Colony and Devi Nagar will be covered with UGD facilities; 67.82 km of network will be laid at Rs.19.85 crore. As many as 60,000 families will benefit from these works, for which tenders are being finalised.

Says Gulzar: "We expect to complete all projects by the end of 2008. Even if there is any spillover, we should be able to complete them by the end of 2009."

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