After wasting five years in the name of surveys and studies, the GHMC has once again decided to embark on a nala-widening project as also remove encroachments in order to minimise inundation woes in the years ahead.
The corporation has identified more than 12,000 encroachments, but has decided to clear 800 encroachments from 47 'critical bottlenecks' on priority at an estimated cost of Rs 230 crore.
Although, nearly 34 months have passed, only minimal effort has been made with regard to removal of encroachments. Less than 200 encroachments (asbestos sheds and other minor encroachments) have been removed till date, which made no difference to either residents in low-lying areas or the encroachers.
As part of post-disaster plans, the authorities have now decided to remove 575 'critical ' bottlenecks. However, the project has been moving at a snail's pace. The authorities are blaming political hindrances and all previous governments for the ongoing disaster.
The civic body took up a nala survey in October 2016 and completed it in January 2017. Besides manual survey, corporation officials had used unconventional methods for accuracy, including drone cameras for aerial surveys and video-documenting areas with GPS systems.
The Geographical Information System (GIS) wing of the GHMC was involved in the exercise. The officials identified as many as 12,182 unauthorised constructions in 173 major nalas spreading into 390 kms.
The corporation had decided to clear the bottlenecks during phase I to avoid inundation of low-lying areas during the 2017 monsoon. It finally decided to clear 47 critical bottlenecks (which are of 16.66 km length) at a cost of `230 crore, where 800 structures were identified.
However, the corporation officials could not achieve the target because of ‘political pressure.’
Citing this, the municipal administration and urban development department conducted a review meeting with city corporators and instructed them to cooperate with civic body staff and not create any disturbance during nala encroachment removal drive. Since the 2017 monsoon, officials managed to clear about 200 minor encroachments in 32 months.
Highly placed sources in the corporation said that despite taking the issue to the notice of higher authorities, they had turned a blind eye to it. The issue of inundation due to sudden cloudburst during the current month was also taken to the notice of officials since it has been happening over the years.
The corporation officials and political leaders in a knee-jerk reaction have once again picked up the nala-widening issue towards which they have been conducting a series of review meetings.
A senior GHMC official told Deccan Chronicle that since the staff has only four weeks, they would remove encroachments for which the consent was received from property owners and were ready for structural compensation. He claimed that by following the due process, the corporation can remove about 200 major encroachments on nalas and assured that they would remove a majority of encroachments in the next 18 months.
On political pressures, the official said that he would only act according to the law and register criminal cases against violations. “We will remove all encroachments on city nalas, structural compensation would be paid to properties on the nalas and no compensation to those in the nalas. We will not hesitate to file criminal cases against those found guilty of obstructing our duty and prevent us from removing encroachments,” he added....