A development story

Print edition : February 29, 2008

The Guntur Municipal Corporation leaves no stone unturned to ensure the citys all-round growth.

in guntur

The Administrative Building of the Guntur Municipal Corporation.-PHOTOGRAPHS: T. VIJAYA KUMAR

The Administrative Building

THE Municipal Corporation of Guntur dreams big for the residents of the city, which has a more than 200-year-old history. It has achieved many firsts in its relatively brief existence of less than 20 years.

The young corporation also has the youngest Mayor in the country, 23-year-old Kanna Nagaraju. The 52-member Municipal Council is guided by the young dynamic Municipal Commissioner Siddhartha Jain.

Guntur means the village of tanks. It is believed that this village first came up close to what is known as the Red Tank. The French held Kondaveedu, a nearby village, from A.D. 1732 and built a fort to the east of the area now known as Old Guntur. The French commander constructed houses for himself and for his troopers towards the north of present-day Nallacheruvu (Black Tank) and this area was called New Guntur.

One of the fastest developing Tier-III cities in Andhra Pradesh, Guntur has pride of place among municipal corporations in the State. A vibrant city, home to some of the wealthiest traders in cotton, chillis and tobacco, Guntur has fast metamorphosed into a modern city with an array of glittering shopping malls, restaurants and commercial complexes dotting the skyline.

Providing basic civic amenities to a growing city with a population of over seven lakh has been a demanding task for the local body. It, however, has achieved many firsts, and dreams of providing 24-hour water supply to domestic and industrial consumers and meet the needs of the industrial corridor that is fast coming up between Vijayawada and Guntur. The corridor is expected to convert these into major Twin Cities of Andhra Pradesh after Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

The GMC has achieved remarkable progress in augmenting basic amenities such as drinking water supply, sanitation, street lighting and solid waste management. It also has an efficient system in place to redress public grievances. The GMC is highly responsive to civic problems and innovative in toning up its administrative machinery, said District Collector Mohammad Ali Rafath.

A series of special drives has been launched by the Municipal Commissioner to augment the quality of basic services such as sanitation. The three-bin system has become a reality in many apartment complexes in the city and garbage clearance is 100 per cent. A week-long special sanitation drive in the city identified several issues, and short-term and long-term plans have been envisaged to solve them. For solid waste management, the GMC got a grant of Rs.1.26 crore from the Twelfth Finance Commission, which was spent on procuring dumper bins and tricycles. Today local residents welfare associations take care of 50 per cent of the house-to-house garbage collection system. The use of coloured plastic bins for waste segregation at source has been introduced in some commercial areas too. Seventy-six acres of land was recently acquired in Yedlapadu mandal for dumping waste.

Works such as construction of drains, laying of roads, improvement of road junctions and development of burial grounds were taken up at a cost of Rs.24 crore. Siddhartha Jain said: People should be proud of the city they live in and be motivated to be part of the planned development. A systematic approach to administration and planning is the need of the hour. Special drives to improve sanitation and provide water supply connections will help in identifying several issues.

Mayor Kanna Nagaraju. At 23, he is the youngest Mayor in India.-

Mayor Kanna Nagaraju.

The municipal body is going beyond its principal mandate of providing basic amenities to the people; the GMC organises mega medical camps. The camps held on the Sri Patibandla Sitaramaiah High School grounds in December every year witnesses a huge turnout. The latest camp attracted more than 15,000 people. A team of 85 doctors from 20 specialisations attended to 13,400 patients. Medicines costing Rs.8.4 lakh were distributed.

As many as 180 paramedical staff, students of nursing colleges and 370 cadets of the National Cadet Corps (NCC) volunteered their services. The success of the camp motivated some private hospitals and clinics to offer follow-up medical service for the patients. They would be treated for a month at a hospital of their choice.

One of the most daunting tasks for the corporation is to ensure potable drinking water for the entire city. Guntur, which does not have a raw water source, depends on the Guntur Channel and the Buckingham Channel to supply 80 million litres per day (MLD) against the total ideal assessed demand of 121 MLD. The centuries-old water source at Sangam Jagarlamudi has been renovated thanks to the special interest shown by the Mayor. A water filtration plant of 10 million gallons per day has been commissioned and four reservoirs have been built at L.B. Nagar, Srinivasarao Thota, R.T.C. Colony and Stambalagaruvu.

The corporation saw a turnaround in its finances with a near 100 per cent collection of tax and non-tax revenue from individuals and commercial establishments. Innovative steps taken by Deputy Commissioner N. Yadagiri Rao to boost revenue collection have yielded results; of the total 1.14 lakh assessments, 941 were new assessments.

The revenue wing has been trifurcated each wing deals exclusively with property tax collection, vacant land tax collection and spot billing of water supplied for non-domestic consumers. Pay tax and take away a gift, was the slogan used to attract people to pay their taxes. This promotional scheme fetched a record revenue of Rs.13 crore in a short span.

Siddhartha Jain, Municipal Commissioner.-

Siddhartha Jain, Municipal

The GMC has developed several programmes for alleviation of urban poverty. Grants under the Andhra Pradesh Urban Services to the Poor (APUSP) have been used to build amenities in slums and strengthen the 2,724 self-help groups (SHGs) by providing bank linkage loans to the extent of Rs.7.37 crore. The GMC stood first in the implementation of the APUSPs objectives and secured maximum grants under its C-1 and C-2 components.

Innovative programmes such as training womens groups in fashion technology, training unemployed youth under Urban Programme for Advancement of Household Income (UPADHI) and implementing food-for-security programmes for SHGs have been taken up. Under the State governments ambitious pavala vaddi scheme, Rs.8.06 crore has been disbursed to 1,851 womens groups.

A Citizens Charter was introduced in 2001 as part of the administrative reforms aimed at making the system more transparent and delivering quality services. The charter ensures that applications for building plan approval, new water connections, and birth and death certificates are promptly processed. Complaints regarding leakages in water pipes, street lights, drainage block, garbage removal and cleaning of side drains are being addressed. People need to dial 103 to register complaints.

The charter was computerised in 2005. Petitions relating to urban poverty alleviation programmes are also taken up. Until the end of January, 2,480 applications were received and 2,274 of them have been dealt with. The implementation of the Right to Information Act has resulted in an increase in applications. Nine new services have been added this month to the charter.

The citys dream of having an underground drainage system for stormwater and sewage will come true if a proposed Rs.400-crore project is approved by the Central government under the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT). Currently, an outdated pumping system covers 35 per cent of the city. The new project, if approved, will give the city three or four sewage treatment plants.

About Rs.3 crore has been earmarked for the establishment of compost yards-cum-garbage transfer stations; a call has been given to send expression of interest for scientific disposal of 360 metric tonnes of garbage that the city generates every day at the newly acquired dumping site.

To extend the citys green cover, the corporation is developing smruthivanams, parks and walking tracks. A smruthivanam has been completed at the Udyog Nagar reserve site, and more are proposed to be built at Santhi Nagar (Muthyala Reddy Nagar), Nava Bharath Nagar, R.T.C. Colony (reserve site), Srikanth Nagar, the Kortipadu triangle belt, the Stambalagaruvu reserve site and Lakshmipuram Main Road at an estimated cost of Rs.41.57 lakh. Another has been proposed for HB Colony.

The GMC has computerised its various wings in order to make its services more efficient. Water supply through tankers has been streamlined and the system has been computerised for this purpose. Unauthorised entry into prominent parks in the city Gandhi Park and the Manasa Sarovar Park can now be monitored thanks to the introduction of the bar code system. A fingerprint-based biometric system has been set up to check the entry and exit timings of over 500 employees of the GMC. The Internet Protocol-based systems are connected to existing local area network (LAN) and wireless LAN (WLAN). An accrual-based accounting system, which includes a double entry system of accounting, reveals the financial strength and performance of potential investors.

Under a master plan, the GMC has taken up road widening works within the purview of Vijayawada Guntur Tenali Mangalagiri Urban Development Authority (VGTM-UDA). The A.T. Agraharam line and the Nallacheruvu road behind Sampath Nagar have been developed and opened for traffic. Traffic junctions have been improved.

Steps have been taken to protect water tanks to address concerns about the fluctuating water tables. Action is being taken to remove encroachments at Koretipadu, Nallachervu, Red Tank and Peekalavagu.

A comprehensive study of the road traffic in the city was carried out by CRAFT, a consultancy, which suggested short-term, medium-term and long-term measures to streamline the traffic.

Two major junctions and three medium junctions would be improved as part of a new traffic management plan. Signal lighting system has already been put in place at the Hindu College, the market centre, the Sankar Vilas and Lodge Centre junctions.

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