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Will fight for Defence lands: KT Rama Rao

Hyderabad: The Local Military Authorities were acting as per their whims and fancies as if they were running a parallel government, denying the citizens access to basic infrastructure, Telangana Municipal Administration and Urban Development Minister KT Rama Rao said on Saturday.

The Minister made his displeasure known about the functioning of the Local Military Authority which remained unresponsive to dozens of requests of the State government for improving the infrastructure in cantonment areas.

Speaking to reporters, Rama Rao reminded that Chief Minister K Chandrashekhar Rao submitted several representations to the Centre for handing over some Defence properties in the Secunderabad Cantonment area for improving the infrastructure, but the repeated requests have fallen on deaf ears.

He said the Centre was not giving any additional funds to Telangana than those which were released as a Constitutional obligation through devolution of taxes. “Those in the Central government has a mental block or have an unknown aversion towards Telangana. The Centre funded entire Bengaluru Metro Rail project, but has not extended similar facility to Hyderabad Metro Rail, despite our repeated requests”.

The Minister strongly objected to the attitude of the Army authorities towards civilians living in the Cantonment area and surrounding areas. He stated that the Army officials were behaving as if they were running a parallel government in Hyderabad.

He reminded that there has been no response to hand over Defence lands for urban infrastructure development including skyways in the Secunderabad area. He reminded that the routes of Paradise-Kompally and Patny-Shamirpet have become too congested, posing a challenge to people during commuting every day.

Citing a recent incident, he said Dulkapur nala, which carries drainage water from Banjara Hills and Langer House areas to Hussain Sagar, passes through the Mehdipatnam Defence area. The Army authorities have built a check dam on the nala for unknown reasons without even informing the local authorities. As a result, the water seeped into Shatam Talab (Shah Hatim Talab) and polluted the lake.

“We have been maintaining cordial relations with the Centre and making requests to the Union Ministers for resolving these issues. If they are not willing to listen to our pleas, we have no option but to take to the streets and stage demonstrations. The State government will fight on behalf of its people. We have held protests for farmers of the State recently, and we will take a similar path in the best interests of our people if the Union government remains unresponsive,” he asserted.

On Telangana winning 12 awards under Swachh Sarvekshan 2021 and other competitions held by the Centre, the Minister felt that effective implementation of the new Municipal Act, as well as programmes such as Pattana Pragathi and Haritha Haram, have played a great role in securing the awards. The State government had not only increased the number of ULBs from 68 to 142 but also released necessary funds for the development of ULBs every month. After the new Municipal Act came into force, the government released around Rs 2,959 crore so far.

“As per CM’s directions, we focused on basic civic infrastructure including drinking water, sanitation, and solid waste management etc. We made Green Budget mandatory for all ULBs, which is unheard of anywhere in the country,” he added.

The Minister made it clear that apart from releasing funds on the basis of per capita, the State government was providing funds to smaller municipalities through Telangana Urban Finance Infrastructure Development Corporation (TUFIDC). The government will soon start recruitment of staff in all ULBs. He stated that the Central government was only giving awards, but not funds to a performing State like Telangana.

Responding to questions, Rama Rao said Hyderabad is growing at a fast pace which in turn is imposing a huge burden on its urban infrastructure. However, the State government is making all efforts to improve the same. A major part of about 1,500 new Swachh autos to be launched soon, will be allocated to the Old City area to improve sanitation.

Hyderabad is generating about 6,500 tonnes of garbage, which could help in the generation of 90 MW of power through waste-to-energy plants. “This government listens to its people. We have launched Sunday Funday programmes at Tank Bund and Charminar as well as enhanced metro train timings, following requests from citizens on social media,” he said.