VIJAYAWADA: With moderate showers lashing the city for the past few days, tension has been mounting among the residents of hillocks across the city.
Two weeks ago, a small boulder had rolled down on a house near Sunnapubhatilu Centre, in which two persons had sustained injuries. As many as 18 persons residing on the hillocks have lost their lives in the city since 2004.
Be it Indrakeeladri, Bhavanipuram or Gunadala hills, boulders rolling down during the monsoon season is nothing new for the residents, thanks to the apathy of Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC), Revenue and Forest officials as they have failed to learn any lesson from previous incidents.
With this, the people residing on hill slopes, spread around 16 acres of the city, have decided to form committees and take their problems to the notice of the Chief Minister in the hope of finding a permanent solution by sanctioning housing facility in and around the vicinity of the plains.
“It has become a routine affair for us to have sleepless nights during monsoon as there are chances of landslips and reptiles entering into our houses. On several occasions, we have submitted representations to the civic body to improve facilities, yet no action has been initiated so far. Whenever any untoward incident happened, the officials and people’s representatives come here to console the families and the rest remains the same,” said N Surekha, a resident of Karmika Nagar.
Another local, Paidi Yedukondalu residing at Gangireddu Dibba said, “TDP government had promised house pattas as we paid taxes to the VMC. No steps have been taken in this regard and the number of encroachments on the hillocks has increased gradually and made our lives miserable”.
He also said that during monsoon, power supply was interrupted often and none of the officials would answer their calls during health emergencies. Instead of identifying permanent solution to their problems, the officials concerned continued to provide rehabilitation at schools during the monsoon or when any boulder rolled down, he alleged.
“Around 2.5 lakh people reside in 65,251 houses spread across the hillocks in 16 divisions of the city. Most of the houses were constructed about three decades ago and now are in pathetic conditions. It is also a gigantic task to undertake rescue operations during landslides, as heavy machinery like earthmovers can not reach the accident spot on the hill slopes,” said VMC city planner K Lakshmana Rao.
He added that a few years ago, the VMC had constructed walls at an estimated cost of Rs 14 crore atop the hillocks to prevent the boulders from rolling down and managed to minimise the severity of the situation. When asked about housing facility, Rao maintained that the decision should be taken by the government.