GUNTUR: Water supply and infrastructure are going to be the main poll planks in Guntur as Guntur Municipal Corporation (GMC) is going for elections after 15 years. Guntur municipality is one of the oldest municipalities with more than 150 years of history. It was constituted with 25,000 population in 1866 and it was later upgraded into third grade municipality in 1891, first grade in 1917, special grade in 1952 and a selection grade municipality in 1960. It was finally made a municipal corporation in 1994.
The first-ever municipal election was conducted in 1995. TDP candidate Kolli Sarada was elected as the first mayor and in 2000, TDP candidate Chukka Yesu Ratnam was elected mayor. The previous council was headed by Congress and Rayapati Mohana Sai Ranga was the last mayor.
Guntur city has 57 divisions. As per 2011 census, the city is the third most populous city in the State with a population of 7,43,354. In 2012, the city limits was expanded with the merger of 10 surrounding villages -- Nallapadu, Pedapalakaluru, Ankireddipalem, Adavitakkelapadu, Gorantla, Pothuru, Chowdavaram, Etluru, Budampadu and Reddypalem.
Due to the absence of an elected body for the last 11 years, civic infrastructure in the city has taken a backseat. The poor condition of roads has been worrying denizens.The city erupted in joy when the Union Ministry of Urban Development has accorded permission to take up underground drainage (UGD) works worth `903.82 crore. It is one of the biggest grants sanctioned for any urban local body in the State. But due to lack of proper planning, majority of roads in the city were dug up to lay pipelines, which caused irreparable damage to the civic infrastructure in the city.
Shapoorji Pallonji & Company Private Limited, which took up UGD works, was supposed to repair roads. However, this did not happen due to various reasons. Now, the dug-up roads are causing inconvenience to commuters.The GMC started road repair works in February, which only increased traffic problems in the city. As many as 3.5 lakh vehicles including 23,000 auto-rickshaws ply on city roads every day. The traffic jams are witnessed mostly at Sankar Vilas, Donka Road and Nehru Nagar. The Sankar Vilas flyover extension works were proposed in 2005 but due to lack of an elected body since 2011, the project is yet to be completed.
With GMC Commissioner Ch Anuradha laying special focus on improving sanitation in the city as part of Swachh Guntur, sanitation received a major boost. The civic chief has been conducting regular inspections and holding awareness campaigns to seek public cooperation for achieving the cleanest city tag in Swachh Survekshan. The drinking water problem was also solved as new pipelines were laid in the 800-km stretch with Rs 500 crore funds from Andhra Pradesh Municipal Development Project and AMRUT. Now, the city has 42 water tanks and samples are collected from time to time to test the water quality.
Though the GMC is supplying 135 million litres of water per day (MLD), it is not sufficient for the 7.5 lakh population. The city’s population is expected to grow to 9 lakh in 2021. Water problems are witnessed at Gujjanagundla, SVN Colony and merged villages. “As we are getting municipal water only once or twice a week, we are forced to rely on water tankers. We are also purchasing drinking water from the nearby water plants,” said Rambabu, a resident of SVN Colony.Coming to lung spaces in the city, Gandhi Park, one of the biggest parks in the city, has been lying neglected for many years. After receiving complaints from the denizens, the GMC started renovation of parks in February.