RAJAHMUNDRY: Though officials claim that 95 per cent of the works relating to Godavari Pushkarams have been completed and the remaining will be over by next week, this looks very doubtful. Though irrigation department’s works pertaining to ghats are almost completed, other departments’ works are yet to commence.
The approach roads are yet to be completed and there seem to be no efforts to recarpet the roads in the city, which are in dire need of repairs. Works are being carried out in a hurried pace at the last hour, which seems to be affecting the quality of the works. “Of course, the quality of works gets affected as there seems to be a lack of coordination among departments and delay in decision making. Contractors are in a bind as they are not sure when their bills will get cleared and lack of focus is evident in quality of works,” says an official monitoring the works, not wishing to be named.
Collapse of the retaining wall at Durga Ghat near the famous Kotilingala Ghat a couple of weeks ago, only underscores the poor quality of work. As the drainage outlet into the river at the ghat was not taken care of, the drain water that fell with force on the semi-finished wall caused its collapse. Though officials were able to rectify the mistake and reconstruct the retaining wall by extending the pipeline of drain further, it exposes the quality of the works.
The municipal authorities are yet to take any decision pertaining to bettering of the roads, travelling on which can be a back-breaking experience. Though some works were completed in part at a couple of places in the city, the question in the minds of Rajahmundry citizens is: will they be enough. “Ongoing works are slow and we wonder if they would be completed in time. Other departments can only take up the works, one after another. It was not the case during the last Pushkarams,” points out two senior employees of APSRTC strolling along Kotilingala Pushkar Ghat.
For the previous Godavari Pushkarams in 2003, the planning and works had commenced 10 months before the commencement of the event, bus this time they commenced hardly three months ago. There is a reason for the delay, says K Dhanunjaya Reddy, a special officer for Godavari Pushkarams.
He said the circumstances then and now are completely different. “There were many factors, the principal being state reorganisation. It was only a year ago that the new government had taken guard and the financial situation was a mess. Even the works taken up this time, given that it is Maha Pushkaralu of Godavari, that happen once in 144 years, were more expecting some two crore to 2.5 crore pilgrims in both Godavari districts. Time was short and there was some delay. However, all these issues have been sorted out and the works are about to be completed,” he explains.
He admits that there were some glitches in coordination before, but those minor issues have been addressed and every department is coordinating with others to get the works done in time. He says chaotic scenes and mess evident at the ghats and other places is but to be expected near the conclusion of the works. “Just wait a few more days, everything will be ready with no scope for complaints,” says the special officer with confidence.
With chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu visiting every other week and breathing down their neck, the official machinery is being spurred to complete the works by next week. Will it happen?
Water Level to Go up During Event
A look at the water levels of Godavari river at the bathing ghats dotting the river bank in Rajahmundry, would make one wonder whether there would be enough water at the ghats for taking a dip during ‘Maha Pushkarams’ to commence in a fortnight. The water levels along the 15 ghats stretched along the river bank just come up to ankle and it is full of mud. On the other hand, workers are diligently working day and night to complete the works before the deadline. Officials say there is no need to worry about water levels at the ghats, as the low levels were intentional and once the works are completed the water levels will increase and people will be able to take a holy dip. “Since the works are under progress, we are maintaining low levels of water than normal upstream of Dowleswaram Barrage. Usually at this time of the year water levels are maintained at 12.5 metres at the barrage, but to facilitate works we have kept the levels one metre less than the normal. Once the works are complete, we will retain the water levels at the barrage, which will ensure a minimum five feet of water at the ghats,” explained P Tirupathi Rao, executive engineer of Godavari Head Works.