VISAKHAPATNAM: The delay in commissioning of long-pending projects, some of them delayed by more than a decade, has drawn the ire of both the Union Ministry of Urban Development and state government. With the Port City on the threshold of a development era, the Union and state governments are of the opinion that projects should be streamlined to facilitate the Smart City project.
The VUDA and GVMC launched many projects during the tenure of the previous Congress government in Andhra Pradesh. But, there had been an abnormal delay in the execution of the projects. While some of the projects completed 70 to 80 per cent works, some were still in the initial stages. Though the VUDA and GVMC officials are giving various excuses for the delay, including stay orders from courts and the long wait for mandatory sanctions from the Union ministries concerned, the delay has led to escalation of cost manifold. Many contractors are clamouring to revise the estimates as they are incurring losses due to escalation of costs.
Under these circumstances, the Union government has entrusted the Task Force with the job of reviewing the status of the projects. The Task Force has been set up recently to draft an action plan for the Smart City project. It comprises officials from the Union ministries of Urban Development and External Affairs, state government officials from the departments concerned and the top officials of VUDA and GVMC.
“The task force will discuss the utilisation of available resources with the top officials of the civic bodies and prepare an action plan for the Smart City. It will review the progress of the existing projects and decide on the future course of action,” a senior official at the department of Municipal Administration and Urban Development told Express.
Among the projects launched by the GVMC are the Under Ground Drainage System, Bus Rapid Transport System (BRTS), 24-hours water supply scheme and a slum clearance project to provide housing for poor and BPL families. Except for the flyover project (a part of BRTS), no other project has been completed yet. Both the corridors of the BRTS - Pendurthi to Dwarakanagar Bus Complex via Adavivaram and the second corridor via NAD Junction are yet to be taken up. Though the officials had set several deadlines, the project failed to take off.
The Underground Drainage project is also yet to be completed. The engineering department officials are facing a tough time to finish it. Though the GVMC has constructed as many as 14,000 houses under JNNURM, a majority of the beneficiaries are yet to occupy the houses. Meanwhile, several units are found in a damaged condition, raising concerns about the quality of work.
The VUDA had also taken up many mega projects including YSR Park near RTC Complex, Telugu Museum atop the scenic Kailasagiri Hill, Harita housing project, Children’s Arena, etc. Projects were also designed to develop tourist spots. The road from Gopalapatnam leading to Simhachalam, which is one of the prime locations being the abode of Lord Sri Varahalakshmi Nrusimha Swamy Temple, is also in a shambles.
“It’s true that there is an inordinate delay in the execution of the projects. BRTS is getting delayed because of objection from some people who approached the court. However, we are now concerned about the early execution of the projects which are in the final stage,” said a senior official at GVMC.