Budget has no allocations for flood-proofing the city

The ‘Strategic Nala Development Plan’ announced by KTR may remain a non-starter

Post the destructive floods that rendered the city limp in October last year, one would have expected considerable allocations in the coming budget for ameliorating the situation in future.

The Budget for the Financial Year 2021-22 presented by Minister T. Harish Rao on Thursday, however, does not show a single rupee allotment for development of either lakes or storm water drains in the city which are central requirement for making city flood proof.

Massive economic cost accompanied the October floods, as thousands of people lost their homes and livelihoods, and government spent enormous amounts running into hundreds of crores of rupees on distribution of flood relief.

Strangely though, the calamity and its aftermath have not inspired the government to allocate even a fraction of the cost incurred for preventive measures to address the situation adequately.

Soon after the floods, in the first week of November, 2020, the Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development K.T. Rama Rao announced ‘Strategic Nala Development Plan’ (SNDP) as a dedicated project for studying the stormwater drains and taking measures for their improvement. Orders were issued towards constitution of a special wing for SNDP under GHMC, for planning, developing and maintaining a comprehensive stormwater drainage or nala system in the city, towards mitigating adversities on account of heavy rains or urban floods in future.

Retired chief engineer, Roads & Buildings, C. Vasantha was appointed as the head of the new wing.

Close to five months after the announcement, SNDP does not have even office space to function from. Sources inform that the wing, which lacks staff, funds and wherewithal, functions from borrowed space at Buddha Bhavan, the same venue from where GHMC’s other wing for Enforcement, Vigilance and Disaster Management functions with enviable opulence. Existence of such a wing as SNDP has long been out of public memory for all practical purposes, with no news about any meetings or reports coming forth post its constitution.

As per the information available in the Socio-Economic Outlook-2021, the total amount spent on lake rejuvenation since 2014 is close to ₹377 crore, of which ₹289 crore has been spent on Hussainsagar alone.

With no special allocations in the budget which instead gave priority for Musi River Front Development, Hyderabad Metro Rail and Regional Ring Road, it seems that the stormwater drains will have to wait more for redemption.

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