Encroachment removal on footpaths: The GHMC removed about 1,300 encroachments from the city’s pavements. The civic body has formed an independent Enforcement, Vigilance & Disaster Management wing which achieved this feat, allowing pedestrians to walk along pavements safely. The corporation has declared that it will remove all encroachments from pavements in the city.
AIIMS in Bibinagar: The state government has finally got the All India Institute of Medical Sciences to be set up in Bibinagar. The erstwhile Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences, which had been constructed, could not be made functional and the state government decided to give the land to the central government to develop AIIMS.
HC bifurcation: The long wait for separate High Courts for AP and Telangana ended with the notification of the President issued on December 26. President Ramnath Kovind while notifying the principal seat of AP High Court at Amaravati declared that the Telangana and AP High Courts will be made functional from January 1, 2019. Though this major breakthrough brought cheer to Telangana advocates, AP advocates are unhappy at the hurried manner in which this has been done and have unanimously resolved to move a Special Leave Petition on an emergency basis before the Supreme Court for extension of time for another three months to start the AP High Court.
City gets 2 skyways, underpasses: The ambitious Strategic Road Development programme of the Telangana government began with much fanfare and actually saw decent progress this year compared to last year. Though it faces a severe staff crunch, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation managed to inaugurate two skyways and underpasses this year. The year began with the launch of the Ayyappa Society underpass in January and despite challenges in land acquisition, the corporation completed four other projects Mindspace underpass, Chintalkuna underpass, Kamineni LHS flyover and Mindspace flyover.
Realty boom: The real estate market in the state saw 17,500 homes being sold in one year. Although the push was slow, the real estate sector has finally revived.
Ikea sets foot in the city: The Swedish home furnishing giant opened its first India store in Hyderabad. The store, formally inaugurated by Telangana industries minister K.T. Rama Rao, is spread over 4 lakh sq ft on 13 acres offering 7,500 products. The store employs 950 workers in Hyderabad and about 1,500 indirectly. It houses a 1,000-seat restaurant, Ikea’s largest such restaurant anywhere in the world. However, it was in the news for the wrong reasons when a customer complained of finding a worm in his veg biryani. The civic authorities imposed a fine of Rs 10,000 for serving unhygienic food. Heavy traffic jams outside the store made it nightmarish for commuters for several weeks.
Tech aid: The face recognition tool used by the Telangana State police has a database of missing children from across the country, and helped four children who were put in rescue homes to be reunited with their families. This has brought new hope to tracing missing children.
Aerospace hub: The first private Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are being developed in the state which is the first outside Israel. Adani Defence and Aerospace Park is part of the ‘Make in India’ initiative. The objective is to make the complete aerospace structures and it will then be ramped up with further assembling of the UAVs.
Dips of the year 2018
Roads still worse: For commuters, 2018 was a bad year for roads. Despite several assurances from the state government and the civic authorities, bad roads continued to irk commuters all through the year in every nook and corner of the city. The nodal agencies which were supposed to execute the road repair works failed to achieve their targets. Displeasure at this state of affairs was not only expressed by commuters but also by former minister K.T. Rama Rao on several occasions.
Swachh ranking dips: Hyderabad’s ranking slipped to 27th place in Swachh Survekshan rankings among 485 cities, against 22nd rank from among 434 cities last year. A major setback for the city was its score in citizen feedback and Swachhata App downloads, which included feedback from citizens on criteria like cleanliness and sanitation. On both counts citizens found much to be critical about, dashing the hopes of the civic authorities.
Plastic still available: Though the state government has banned plastic bags of less than 50 microns, these are still available across the city, making a mockery of the ban. Officials claim it will be near impossible to curb plastic use in the city unless manufacturing units stop production. But shopkeepers claim the ban would affect business as the 50 plus micron plastic bags are more expensive and they cannot give these to the customer free of cost.
Cull or kill?
Tigress Avni, who was also known as T1, was killed on November 2 after a massive search operation in the forest area of Yavatmal district of Maharashtra. Hyderabad veteran shooter Nawab Shafat Ali Khan’s son Asghar shot her down. The five-year-old tigress had killed a person two years ago and in 18 months the Maharashtra government stated that 13 innocent people in 22 villages had been killed by the tigress. Due to the pressure from local residents, the forest department issued orders to tranquillise or kill the tigress. This order was challenged in the Nagpur High Court and later in the Supreme Court. The apex court refused to stay the order and told officials to first tranquillise the tigress and in case that fails, shoot her. There was a huge agitation by animal activists who were concerned about the fate of the two cubs. The cubs were spotted 15 days after their mother Avni’s death.
lakes yet to be beautified: The poor condition of city lakes remained the same through the year with assurance from the civic body remaining on paper. The civic body made a comprehensive action plan and decided to beautify the city lakes at an estimated cost of Rs 287 crore within 60 days, and complete the restoration by mid-June. However, not even a work order has been accorded to any agency to beautify the lakes.
OGH woes goes on: Osmania General Hospital continued to battle with falling cement flakes as the government failed to take a decision on restoration of the building. After 84 days of protest by the staff, rough drafts were presented by the government for restoration of the building. However no concrete work has begun. The hospital which had two floors in the old building is completely vacated and is deteriorating and needs urgent attention.
World Heritage Tag elusive: Though steeped in history with the rich heritage of the Kakatiya dynasty and the Deccan monuments, the World Heritage tag still eludes the city. Despite representations to Unesco, changes at the ground level are far from being achieved....