HYDERABAD: Even before the monsoon arrives, the callous attitude of Hyderabad’s civic agencies has been exposed with the death of a seven-year-old Anand Sai who fell into an open nala in Bhavani Nagar of Bowenpally and died on Saturday.
Last year’s flash floods resulted in the overflowing of nalas, loss of lives, inundation of colonies and houses.
Despite this, the Strategic Nala Development Plan (SNDP), a wing of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), hasn’t started the construction of retaining walls or fencing along nalas, capping of two-metre wide drains, improvement to nalas in the city and its outskirts in the Hyderabad Urban Agglomeration (HUA). Not even 20 per cent of the allocated work has been completed, officials say.
A few days ago, the SNDP floated tenders for 22 work orders costing Rs 2.55 crore for small emergency works to avoid inundation, in what appears to be a face-saving measure.
The State government had earlier instructed the SNDP to take steps to strengthen the existing storm water drain (SWD) network and set up new ones to avoid urban flooding. The SNDP, however, is lagging behind in drawing up plans and executing projects.
In September last year, a 12-year-old girl died after falling into an open drain in Neredmet. At the time, MAUD Minister K T Rama Rao sanctioned Rs 298.34 crore to the GHMC for taking up 472 drain work projects, which are less than two-metres’ wide, across the twin cities. The Minister directed them to commence capping and start repair works on open nalas to avoid untoward incidents during the monsoon.
However, senior officials claim that only a few works are under progress, while tenders for others have been floated. These works are being taken up at zonal levels and have been delayed due to the pandemic. Only 15 to 20 per cent of the works have been completed so far, officials say. For many works, there is no response to tenders from the contractors, they add.
After the flash floods, the SNDP carried out a study and found that several encroachments have come up along the nalas, trunk mains, feeder nalas. Under the short term plan 2021-22, the State government sanctioned `858 crore for 55 projects for improvement of the SWD system in the first week of April. However, the work is yet to start in a majority of the areas.
Raja Singh Lambasts 'Twitter Minister'
The BJP legislative party leader T Raja Singh alleged that the State government’s failure to follow safety protocols led to the death of Anand Sai, 7, who died after falling into an underconstruction nala near his house in Bowenpally. The BJP leaders conveyed their condolences to the bereaved family.
Taking a dig at MAUD Minister KT Rama Rao, Raja Singh sought an explanation, on behalf of the bereaved family, from the former, referring to him as the “Twitter Minister”.
He questioned the Minister, how the government agencies could dig a 20-foot deep nala without following the safety protocols. He said that the little boy would have been alive if the barricades were installed in time.
“The government has learnt nothing from the past incidents. The government’s focus on getting more and more commission led to the death of the boy,” he alleged. The BJP leader and former MLA Kuna Srisailam Goud said the government wanted to complete the construction works in a haste due to the impending monsoon.