Property Prices shooting up in Vishakhapatnam

After City of Nawabs, Hyderabad, the real estate boom is now to visit the port city of Visakhapatnam. Needless to say, the real estate is really zooming here in the wake of new developments. Skyrocketing land prices in Visakhapatnam go through the rooftops, surprisingly beyond the reach of the lay man.

There is a sudden fall in the demand for land pieces in Visakhapatnam, which is further believed to have fuelled because of the political focus shifting to development of separate Telangana state. Consequently, this added to land prices in Hyderabad and the attention of property developers quickly got diverted to Visakhapatnam.

Property developers, apart, group of Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) promising handsome investments have now turned their heads towards the port city. With the result, land prices have spiraled by 50 to 75% in the past two months. What further boosted the rising land prices was the allotment by the State Government of vast stretches of valuable land to industries, software companies and development of Special economic zones (SEZs).

Visakhapatnam has grown by leaps and bounds in recent years and improvements can be seen in every sector in the city. Here, the land prices range in between Rs.8, 000 to Rs.10,000 per square yield. In the major locations like Dwarkanagar, it is as high as Rs. 30,000 to 40,000 per sq yard times, with the development of several IT units and also the sanction of several new industrial parks such as Brandix Apparel City.

The Visakhapatnam Port has been the best port in the country from the past of years for handling as much as 55 million tones of cargo during 2005-06. This even though Volks Vagan’s decision to backtrack from its proposal of setting up an automobile unit in the city caused a temporary delay.

Property prices in Visakhapatnam got doubled in a span of a year. The most popular area is the stretch along the beach, Rushikonda to Bheemunipatnam. The market value of an acre near to Bheemunipatnam is around Rs. 60 lakh and the registration value is in the order of Rs. 9 to Rs. 15 lakh. Indeed, the registration value pushed to 75 per cent from 50 per cent from August 2006.

I find this news quite interesting from the point of view of making investments in Visakhapatnam. Can anyone shed more light on the property trends in this city.

Waiting for your replies friends.
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  • Desalination project hits land hurdle

    VISAKHAPATNAM: The delay in allotment of land by the state government is posing a hurdle to Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation's (GVMC) proposed desalination project.

    GVMC requires about 20 acres to launch the project at an estimated cost of Rs 80 crore. The corporation, through the project, aims to generate 10 million litres of water per day.

    A few months ago, the state government had agreed to allot land along the Bay of Bengal to the corporation. Based on this assurance, the corporation swung into action and entrusted the task of pre-feasibility study to the Andhra Pradesh Industrial and Technical Consultancy (APITCO), which submitted its report two months ago.

    However, the corporation is yet to receive a nod from the state government and is thus reluctant to move further and prepare the detailed project report (DPR) for the much-hyped project.

    "We received the work order of feasibility study on desalination project from GVMC six months ago. After conducting the study at Singapore, Dubai and even in Chennai in the country, we submitted the report to GVMC two months ago. In that report, we have mentioned that Vizag is viable for the desalination project," APITCO project associate K Lakshminarayana told TOI.

    "Though APITCO submitted the report to us, we are not able to prepare the DPR because the government has not as yet allotted the required land. We will prepare the DPR and go ahead with the project soon after getting the land. We hope that the government will give us the land fast," GVMC chief engineer B Jayaram Reddy told TOI. GVMC will first build a 10 MLD plant and then go for a 100 MLD plant, he said.

    However, official sources revealed that the government is waiting for the clearance of the GVMC merger with its neighbouring Anakapalle and Bheemili municipalities before taking any decision on land allotment for the desalination project.

    "GVMC proposed the desalination plant at Bheemili, which is not under its jurisdiction. If the merger takes place, GVMC does not need to depend on the government for the land as it will have the right to the required land in Bheemili, which has vast coastal land along the sea feasible for desalination projects," a senior GVMC officer informed.

    Senior TDP leader K Thatha Rao said that government is once again proving its inability by delaying land allotment to a useful project in the rapidly growing city. "The city needs such projects to meet the huge gap between demand and supply of water," Rao said.

    Desalination project hits land hurdle - The Times of India
  • Post merger, Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation to revise Visakhapatnam plan

    VISAKHAPATNAM: With the merger of Bheemili, Anakapalle and 10 gram panchayats with Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) finally getting the green light, the civic body's city development plan (CDP) that is to be sent to the government in the next two months is now in for a major rework.

    The preliminary draft of the CDP, which was designed to take into account the city's population and its needs for the next 15 to 20 years and made public on May 24 this year, had focused on nine key areas such as roads, water supply, urban slum development, traffic and transportation, sewerage and solid waste management at an estimated cost of Rs 6024.82 crore.

    According to a GVMC official involved in the preparation of the CDP, the revised CDP will require an additional infusion of Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500 crore to focus on development in the soon-to-be-merged areas.

    "We will have to focus on improving the road connectivity between Bheemili and Anakapalle to the city as these are far away from the city. Improving road connectivity alone would cost over than Rs 700 crore as nearly Rs 10 crore per km is required for improving or widening a road," a senior GVMC engineer said. This Rs 700 crore would be addition to the Rs 784.95 crore that is already estimated in the preliminary draft of the CDP for improving traffic and transportation in the city alone, the engineer added.

    According to GVMC officials, there was no need to focus on water supply from the city to the to-be-merged areas as they were far from the city. While Bheemili is located 25 kms away from Vizag, Anakapalle is 40 kms away. "To lay a 300 mm steel pipeline, we have to spend Rs 4,000 per metre, which works out to over Rs 300 crore. So, we are not considering a water project for these new areas as part of the CDP revision," the GVMC engineer opined.

    However, a senior officer from the Anakapalle municipality pointed out that GVMC would have to focus on all the civic issues in Anakapalle municipality as the municipality had not been able to develop the town due to lack of funds and weak revenue sources. "Anakapalle's annual income is hardly 2% as compared with that of GVMC," he said. Similarly, Bheemili municipality garners annual revenues of around Rs 5 crore. It may be mentioned that GVMC's revenue receipts for 2012-13 was Rs 572 crore and its expenditure was Rs 437 crore.

    Senior TDP leader Kona Thatha Rao pointed out that GVMC will have to spend nearly two to three times of the Rs 1500 crore it is targeting to pump into the newly merged areas to get the desired results.

    Incidentally, GVMC spent nearly Rs 1500 crore on the 32 gram panchayats as well as Gajuwaka municipality that were merged into it in 2005. But many of these areas are yet to receive basic services from the civic body.

    When contacted GVMC commissioner MV Satyanarayana admitted that the CDP would have to be revised once the merger is formally announced but said the civic body would not be able to take any further steps to develop the new merger areas without receiving an official order from the government.

    Improving road connectivity alone would cost more than Rs 700 crore as nearly Rs 10 crore per km is required for improving or widening a road.

    Post merger, Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation to revise Visakhapatnam plan - The Times of India
  • Projects galore but only on paper

    VISAKHAPATNAM: The never-ending construction of the Asilmetta-Dondaparthy flyover might finally see the light of day by the end of the month if the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) is to be believed, but this is not the only project on the wish-list of Vizagites that has been dragging on indefinitely. There are many other projects that have been delayed for more than four years, leaving the residents of the City of Destiny wondering if they will ever become a reality.

    The oldest project that comes to the mind of the denizens of the Port City is the much-hyped Dolphinarium near Sagar Nagar, which was mooted about 20 years ago, but never got beyond the drawing board. According to reports, 60 acres of land was acquired for the project and around Rs 30 lakh was spent in the following years. However, nearly two decades later, the project lies gathering dust.

    Even as the dolphinarium remains a distant dream, another project that was planned way back in June 2005 was the Telugu Cultural and Heritage Museum atop Kailasagiri. Nearly 8 years after the Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (Vuda) signed a memorandum of understanding with the World Telugu Federation (WTF), visitors to the hill are yet to catch a glimpse of the rich cultural heritage of the state.

    According to a Vuda official, "The construction of the building has been completed and it might take another 3-4 months before it is thrown open to public. The WTF is working on installing idols and providing a voice-over describing each idol in the museum. There will be about 49 episodes."

    Meanwhile, the foundation stone for Visakha Institute of Medical Sciences (VIMS) was laid in the second week of January 2007. Six years later, CPM secretariat member Ch Narsinga Rao said that the construction of the VIMS building has been completed at a cost of Rs 55 crore, but the facility is yet to open its doors to patients. In fact, chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy had, at a review meeting in December last year, asked the state health ministry to speed up works on the project.

    Another high-profile project that has been stretching on with no end in sight is the Rs 452-crore, 40-kilometre Bus Rapid Transit System (BRTS) that was launched in the third week of February in 2009 and was expected to be completed in December 2010. Four years on, confusion reigns high on the fate of the BRTS as auto rickshaws, buses and cars vie for space in the fast lane constructed for buses to run.

    According to the 'latest' estimations by GVMC officials, the project is expected to be completed by December 2013 as 40% of the BRTS works are pending due to land disputes.

    Blaming the delays in various projects on the lack of efficiency in contract management within the bureaucracy, former bureaucrat E A S Sarma said, "Government bodies should enforce the contracts and any violation should be sternly dealt with by imposing penalties." He said that the lack of training to officers on drafting contracts is also causing a delay in the completion of projects.

    Apart from these projects, Sarma pointed out that public-private-partnership (PPP) projects including Haritha Housing project, which has Rs 120 crore investments by nearly 700 property buyers stuck, have been delayed for more than 4 years.

    Narsinga Rao said irrigation projects including Srujala Sravanthi, for which the foundation stone was laid in 2007 at Sabbavaram, along with eight proposals for irrigation of around 5000 acres of land too appear to have been forgotten.

    Projects galore but only on paper - The Times of India
  • Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation eyes defence tech to build green toilets in city

    VISAKHAPATNAM: The Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) proposes to adopt the eco-friendly bio-toilets developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization's (DRDO) to check open defecation in the city.

    This would make Vizag the first city in the state to use such toilets in public places, though Hyderabad Sainik School (HSS) has a couple of such toilets.

    The bio-toilets, developed by DRDO a year ago as a low-cost alternative to the flush-and-forget toilets, are part of the Rs 25 crore project of establishing public toilets at all 168 spots across the city spread across 544 sq km that have been identified as places where there is open defecation.

    "We plan to set up bio-toilets and e-toilets - two different eco-friendly systems. We have initially planned e-toilets and finalized tenders for a couple of e-toilets. We are currently working on bio-toilets and have appealed to interested agencies to come-up with different models of the toilets. However, it will take some time to be rolled out," GVMC commissioner M V Satyanarayana told TOI.

    GVMC has identified areas such as Fishing Harbour, Madhurawada, Gnanapuram, Peda Jalaripeta, Visakhapatnam Port, Poorna Market and Suryabagh for setting up bio-toilets in a couple of months, official sources revealed.

    "GVMC has already given work order for the construction of four e-toilets out of the 28 it had proposed at a cost of Rs 30 lakh at locations such as Jagadamba Centre, Dwarakanagar Bus Station, Collectorate and RK Beach," GVMC chief medical officer P V Ramana Murthy said.

    GVMC's additional deputy commissioner (projects), B Nagendra Kumar, said that the civic body is keen on getting the bio-toilets with support from sponsors or NGOs. "GVMC is ready to allocate a place if any NGO or donor is willing to bear the cost of entire bio-toilet system," Kumar said.

    An NGO, Harshitha Foundation based at Shankar Mutt in the city, has come forward to set up two bio-toilets at Fishing Harbour in association with GVMC. "Our NGO is ready to bear the expenditure of the two toilets if the GVMC allocates a place suitable to us. We have already met GVMC commissioner Satyanarayana, who welcomed our plans and assured help from GVMC," said the NGO's secretary, R Bharat. Bio-toilets, which cost about Rs 45,000 each, are not only environment friendly but will also contribute organic fertilizers for farmers or those interested in plantations, Bharat said. "Even GVMC can use the biodegradable waste released from the toilets as manure for the ornamental plants at traffic islands in the city," he said.

    Bio-toilet degrades and converts human excreta into usable water and methane gas in an eco-friendly manner. The generated gas can be utilized for cooking and the water for irrigation. The process involves a kind of bacteria that helps in degrading the waste and releases gas and water.

    DRDO is said to have developed the bio-toilets for the use of soldiers deployed in the high-altitude regions of the country. Later, the Union ministry of rural development adopted the technology for use at the village level.

    Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation eyes defence tech to build green toilets in city - The Times of India
  • Visakhapatnam Port Trust acquisition of Kotaveedhi land in 'abeyance'

    VISAKHAPATNAM: The Visakhapatnam Port Trust's (VPT) efforts to acquire 42 acres land at Kotaveedhi and neighbouring areas between the Outer Harbour and Inner Harbour in the One Town area have hit a roadblock as the VPT board of trustees have decided to keep the matter in 'abeyance' following several issues surrounding the controversial move.

    Furthermore, sources said that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has "accessed" files related to the proposed acquisition process of the land in Kotaveedhi and adjoining areas by VPT as the latter had formed a four-man committee to initiate the land acquisition process without following the due procedures. A senior official admitted that there were "certain procedural lapses" in the acquisition process, but refused to divulge other details.

    Sources said that an extent of 102 acres exists between the Outer Harbour and Inner Harbour, of which approximately 60 acres is under the possession of VPT and the remaining area of around 42 acres is occupied by residential buildings, places of worship, school buildings, play grounds and commercial complexes. According to informed sources, the VPT Trust Board in its meeting held on August 8, 2009, had resolved to approve the proposal for acquisition of land at Kotaveedhi by rehabilitating those losing their lands in Port lands in other suitable areas as per applicable or negotiated rates, subject to approval of the government under Section 32(1) of the Major Port Trusts (MPT) Act 1963. The board had also resolved to meet the financial liabilities arising from this acquisition out of Capital Plan Schemes. VPT had proposed the acquisition of the 42 acres to develop infrastructure and operational facilities for augmenting cargo-handling facilities.

    However, an audit note dated November 10, 2012, by the Port audit department stated that "The said section of MPT Act does not permit the VPT to acquire land directly from private parties either on land-to-land exchange basis or otherwise."

    Questioning the acquisition, advocate M A Rasool, president, Kotaveedhi Residents Welfare Association, said that VPT eventually wants to be a landlord port and if that is the case then how can it acquire land for private parties. He said that the port tried to acquire a few areas, but has not been successful. Also mentioning that people were not willing to move out of the Old Town Area, he said, "VPT should not keep troubling Kotaveedhi residents as we are already suffering from mental agony."

    Meanwhile, residents of Kotaveedhi are vexed with the continuous issue of acquisition hounding them. Speaking to STOI, Hajee Aboosarang mosque president Mohammed Ali Khan said, "How can we let go of our land, where we have lived for hundreds of years? More than 90% of the people don't want to move from here."

    "The lives of the members of all communities are associated with the area. You have schools and mosques, which are more than a century old. Aren't they deemed to be heritage structures?" he queried.

    Visakhapatnam Port Trust acquisition of Kotaveedhi land in 'abeyance' - The Times of India
  • Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation not to pull down heritage structures

    VISAKHAPATNAM: Public outrage has forced the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) to do a volte face on the proposal to pull down old buildings in the city, including heritage structures, in the wake of the collapse of the City Light Hotel in Secunderabad recently in which nearly 20 people were killed.

    Recently,Barely a few days ago, the GVMC had said that it would bring down the buildings. Among the buildings under the scanner were Queen Mary's High School, the district collectorate and Kurupam Market. However, now the civic body has decided to leave the heritage structures alone.

    Sources in the GVMC city planning section said that about half-a-dozen heritage buildings are under the scanner but made it clear that they would not be demolished. This was confirmed by GVMC chief engineer B Jairam Reddy who said, "The buildings need to be repaired and we need expert opinion on how to go about it. More importantly, we will have an expert panel, including officials of the tourism and culture ministry, go into the issue. For the time being we are not going to touch them,"

    This has given a sigh of relief to the public. "We were surprised to learn that they had plans to demolish the building. Less than a month ago, we had a meeting with members of the department of archaeology and tourism and culture. They had identified about 100 potential heritage buildings in Visakhapatnam based on our report and were planning to allot funds for their upkeep," said P V Prasada Rao, convener, Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach), Vizag chapter. The GVMC decision to demolish even heritage buildings had shocked many heritage lovers in the city, according to Prasad.

    Sources in Intach said that now that officials are seeing sense, the civic body should take up heritage conservation on a serious note and start by taking steps to conserve some government buildings that have historical value.

    Saurav Dhar of the Centre for Environmental Planning and Technology (CEPT) University, Ahmedabad, proposed that GVMC allot Rs 18 crore over seven years for heritage structures in Visakhapatnam. "Vizag has immense potential as a heritage tourist spot. This was made clear to the GVMC by CEPT," said Dhar.

    However, GVMC is yet to take a step in this direction. GVMC commissioner M V Satyanarayana pointed out that in case of heritage structures certain norms have to be followed. "CEPT did make certain proposals and we are looking into that. We are also aware that in case a Heritage structure is beyond repair the matter is referred to experts (department of archaeology, Intach) for further course of action. However, according to law if a structure is posing a threat to lives it has to be demolished," said the civic body chief.

    "I was agonised when I heard the news. Now I'm able to breathe with some relief," said K Nooka Raju, who spends his evenings at Kurupam Market.

    Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation not to pull down heritage structures - The Times of India
  • Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation's mega projects find no takers

    VISAKHAPATNAM: In yet another instance of Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC)'s grandiose plans coming to naught, 14 months after the civic body mooted three mega multi-use commercial developments and an ultra-modern guest house in posh localities like MVP Colony, Kirlampudi Layout (Beach Road), Seethammadhara and Baazi Junctions near Gopalapatnam, the projects have come a cropper due to lack of takers.

    GVMC had in May last year officially invited Request for Proposal (RFP) from private players to develop the commercial projects at prime locations identified in the heart of the city. These were proposed at an estimated cost of Rs 36 crore on a build-operate-transfer (BOT) basis in the public private participation (PPP) mode.

    The four projects included an ultra-modern shopping complex at Seethammadhara near Alluri Sitaramaraju Statue at an estimated cost of Rs 4 crore over a 2,111 square yard land by demolishing its old shopping complex. The second project was a shopping mall and family entertainment centre at MVP Colony to be put up in an area of 4,592.55 square yards at a cost of Rs 18 crore in place of an old and dilapidated municipal building in the area.

    The third one was a shopping mall and family entertainment centre at Baazi Junction to be built over a 3,615 square yard vacant plot at a cost of Rs 14 crore. The fourth one was an ultra-modern guest house at Kirlampudi along the Beach Road spread over a 1583.66 square yard land at an estimated cost of Rs 7.5 crore.

    According to sources, the decline in the retail and entertainment segment due to the overall slowdown, skyrocketing rentals and non-viability of the proposed areas are some of the prime reasons leading to a delay in the projects from taking off.

    Admitting this, a senior GVMC officer said that the projects had failed to take off as the civic body had received no response from private partners till date for setting up the shopping complex at Baazi Junction and guest house at Kirlampudi Layout. He, however, said that they had got some response for the remaining two projects but these were still in the initial stages.

    GVMC officials are learnt to have admitted as much at the recent review meeting chaired by principal secretary for municipal administration and urban development (MAUD) and GVMC special officer SK Joshi. Responding to the issue during the meet, Joshi reportedly told the GVMC officials to analyze the factors behind the lack of response from private partners for the giant establishments.

    Pointing out that many government bodies like Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC), Super Bazaar and GVMC had earlier allotted some vacant sites to private parties to develop commercial establishments on a BOT basis in the PPP mode in areas like Poorna Market, Dwarakanagar, Maddilapalem and Seethammadhara, real estate developer and head of Vizag chapter of Builders' Association of India Ch Ramakotaiah said that many of them were struggling to survive because of several reasons.

    "Various economic factors like consumer sentiment, high rentals and lopsided agreements that do not favour the developers have hit several such projects in the past. Nearly 30-40% of commercial establishments in the city are currently lying vacant. This is the same reason that GVMC's latest proposal of converting its sites into commercial establishments in the PPP mode has not seen any progress," said Ramakotaiah.

    Admitting that business was tough, Mavuri Venkata Ramana, proprietor of CMR Centre, a shopping mall on NH-16 that was built on BOT basis in the PPP mode at Maddilapalem Junction on APSRTC land, said: "We are able to generate revenues only 50 to 60 days in a year as business comes down to a trickle during the rest of the days. The key reason is recession and people not showing interest in taking up shops for higher rents," he said.

    Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation's mega projects find no takers - The Times of India
  • Dried-up wetlands fall prey to land sharks

    VISAKHAPATNAM: The scanty rainfall in the city this monsoon is posing a major threat to the existence of few remaining wetlands left in and around Vizag as it has exposed these sensitive biodiversity hotspots to encroachments.

    Members of the recently-formed Vizag chapter of the AP Bird Watchers' Society (APBWS) pointed out that encroachers have already started occupying wetlands and water bodies which had dried up in summer. "Pavuralakonda near Bheemunipatnam is a wetland but has dried up now and is being encroached upon by local fishermen who have begun putting up temporary structures as there is no demarcation of the area as a wetland. Similarly, salt mining in some areas in Bheemli too is threatening the existence of wetlands. This even as the depletion of water in water bodies of Kambalakonda and Kondakarlaava, where the lack of boards by the tourism or forest departments demarcating Kondakarlaava as a biodiversity spot has resulted in slums and other settlements springing up," said Vivek Rathore, member, APBWS-Vizag Chapter.

    Mangroves or tidal forest stretches that form an integral part of the wetland ecosystem have already been depleted by more than 50% thanks to the increased industrial activities in those areas and lack of initiative to regenerate them, point out experts. "Around 40-50 years ago, the total area under wetlands and mangroves used to be around 300 hectares in Vizag. This dropped to about 130-140 hectares two to three decades ago and has been steadily declining, reaching double digits in the past decade," said noted environmentalist Sohan Hatangadi.

    "More than 50% of the mangroves and wetlands have depleted, especially in the port area due to industrial activities by the port and petrochemical units as well as other encroachments. The government needs to set up an environment board to check into permission issues for construction activities near the coast to protect the ecology and biodiversity," said S Ravi Kanth Reddy, assistant professor and founder and coordinator of ANITS (Anil Neerukonda Institute of Technology and Sciences) Environment Conservation and Orientation Club.

    These startling facts have also been supported by an article published in 'Current Science' magazine based on a 2009 study that found that the area under wetlands had plummeted to around 55 hectares due to encroachments by slums and locals apart from government and private players' as well as industrial and real estate activities.

    The declining area under wetlands and mangroves is also taking its toll on the biodiversity, with several species of birds rapidly vanishing due to the shrinking habitat. "The number and variety of species have dwindled. For instance, today we can spot just a couple of White-Bellied Sea Eagles near Bheemunipatnam, which used to be earlier packed with such birds," said Praveen Mallampadi, an avid bird watcher and final year student of environmental engineering at AU.

    "Though earlier at least 100 varieties of birds used to be spotted in the wetland areas in and around Vizag, the main patch of which used to be around Meghadrigedda creek (between the port and the airport area), today the wetlands have seen a major depletion due to dredging activities by the port. The result is that today hardly any bird species are spotted," added Rathore, who is also a member of NGO Mother Earth Environmental Consciousness Society (MEECONS).

    Agreeing with the worried bird watchers on the impact of rapid depletion of wetlands and mangroves in the region on fauna, Prof B Baratha Lakshmi, dean of College Development Council of AU, said, "While the government needs to take protective measures to maintain the wetland ecosystem, the regeneration of mangroves is a difficult proposition because most of the wetland area extending from the dockyard to the airport has been converted to regular land and cemented. Shallow water and limited food has also discouraged the wetland species from remaining in these areas."

    Dried-up wetlands fall prey to land sharks - The Times of India
  • Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority directed to supervise Haritha housing project

    VISAKHAPATNAM: The Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (Vuda) engineers have been directed to regularly supervise the construction work at the much delayed Haritha Housing project in order to maintain quality and standards as assured to the allottees. During a visit to the project site, Vuda VC N Yuvaraj underlined the need to focus on maintaining quality in construction work.

    With the delay in completion of the project leading to a decline in confidence among allottees, engineers should play a vital role in regaining the reputation of the organization, he added. The engineers were asked to coordinate and monitor the construction works with the contractors, enabling them to complete the work before time.

    Construction works of the project were given to contractors in the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC)mode to complete the construction of all the 710 apartments at the same time.

    During his visit, the Vuda VC also inspected works in each block and checked the quality of material. He directed the contractors to procure material in advance as per the requirement and engage additional labourers to finish the works as per schedule or even before the given time if possible. Yuvaraj further told the engineers and contractors that he would review the progress of works regularly, apart from personally inspecting them on the ground.

    Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority directed to supervise Haritha housing project - The Times of India
  • Widespread protests against state bifurcation continue

    VISAKHAPATNAM: Despite a general lull due to the festive weekend, protests by the Samaikyandhra protagonists continued in Visakhapatnam on Saturday. One of the major groups to take part in the protests on Saturday morning was a group comprising physically challenged people led by Andhra University research scholar Suresh Menon.

    The group formed a human chain, raised slogans in protest against the bifurcation and demanded the immediate removal of the four-member committee headed by AK Antony to look into the issues of bifurcation. The protesters also conducted a rasta roko, blocking NH-16 at Maddilapalem junction. "The enthusiasm shown by the physically challenged should inspire others to follow in their footsteps to keep the state united," said Menon.

    Earlier in the day, the Samaikyandhra Students JAC released the non-political Samaikyandhra JAC banner at the Andhra University and later distributed about 10,000 pamphlets in and around the campus. The district collectorate too was abuzz with activity, what with the fisherfolk stealing the show with a unique protest that involved netting and chaining a KCR lookalike. The protest drew a lot of howls from the crowd of protesters.

    Not to be left behind, members of the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) led by Vasupalli Ganesh burnt an effigy of Sonia Gandhi at the Jagadamba centre and shouted slogans against the bifurcation of the state. Speaking on the occasion, Vasupalli Ganesh alleged that the Congress was playing a dirty numbers game at the expense of the people of the state.

    Members of various communities too took part in the protests. While members of the Relli community conducted protests at Jagadamba Centre where Visakha South MLA and government whip Dronam Raju Srinivas was also present, members of the Visakha Artistes Association, led by popular theatre artiste Badamgir Sai, carried a protest march at RK beach in the evening, walking all the way to the Victory at Sea memorial.

    Small scale industrialists too chipped in with nearly 500 members of the Visakha Small Scale Industrialists Association of Autonagar taking out a protest rally from Autonagar to Srinagar, where they submitted a memorandum to the revenue officials that was addressed to the governor.

    Widespread protests against state bifurcation continue - The Times of India
  • Land sharks on an encroachment spree

    VISAKHAPATNAM: The Samaikyandhra stir seems to have come as a golden opportunity for land grabbers to spread their tentacles as several employees of the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) and revenue department have been striking work.

    According to sources, encroachments have been cropping up on government lands over the past one month at various places on the outskirts of the city, including Duvvada, Kurmannapalem, Pedagantyada mandal and Madhurawada, with local politicians and realtors playing a key role in such activities.

    In fact, just a week ago, several thatched houses sprung up in and around a parcel of land valued at around Rs 50 crore at Mithilapuri Vuda Colony at Survey no 336 in Madhurawada, an outskirts area falling under the purview of GVMC. The 19.45 acres was allotted to nearly 240 physically challenged persons in the 90's and while a few beneficiaries occupied the land by constructing thatched houses, some sold it off and the remaining land has been lying vacant.

    Taking advantage of the ongoing stir, emboldened land grabbers have now encroached upon nearly half of this site in Madhurawada, where land rates have shot up over the past 2-3 years to around Rs 20,000 per sq yard. While earlier, officials of GVMC and revenue department would demolish encroachments at the site, in the past one month they have been unable to keep an eye on things as most of their staff are striking work for Samaikyandhra.

    In fact, the beneficiaries, who have organized themselves under the banner of Vikalangula Hakkula Porata Samithi, alleged that over the past one week, land grabbers have, with the help of a few physically challenged persons, been clearing bushes at the site and kept ready palmyra leaves (palm tree) for putting up thatched houses.

    While a senior GVMC official said that the land does not belong to the civic body but to the revenue department, officials of the revenue department said they would remove the encroachments once the strike is called off.

    "We will take action against all encroachments once the strike is over as around 8,000 employees, including permanent, contract and outsourcing workers, are on strike, except those catering to essential services like water supply, health and sanitary facilities," the GVMC official said.

    GVMC commissioner MV Satyanarayana said they had learnt about the encroachments and had even removed some of them, but were short of manpower due to the ongoing strike, which is why efforts had been focused on providing basic services like drinking water supply, health and sanitation. "All those occupying GVMC lands are advised not to indulge in such activities because GVMC will remove all encroachments with the help of police and demolish any concrete constructions. We will take stringent action against the violators," the GVMC chief said.

    Some land grabbers have also occupied revenue department lands at Bhanojithota in Gajuwaka, another outskirts area of the city. Even the district collector and joint collector visited the site a couple of weeks ago and ordered the electricity department to not provide any power connections to the thatched houses that have come up on the encroached land.

    Meanwhile, even as Simhachalam Temple authorities removed encroachments at Simhapuri Colony in 72nd ward of GVMC on Monday, the encroachers alleged that it was a revenue department site and not temple land and even staged a protest demanding that the authorities allot sites to them at the encroached site.

    Land sharks on an encroachment spree - The Times of India
  • Civic body to take up 10 new projects by 2015

    VISAKHAPATNAM: The Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) has finally set the ball rolling for taking up at least 10 proposed (civic) projects at a cost of Rs 500 crore by the end of 2015. The task of preparing the detailed project reports (DPRs) has been entrusted to Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Ltd (IL&FS), which had also prepared the DPR for the Visakhapatnam Industrial Water Supply project.

    GVMC commissioner MV Satyanarayana said IL&FS has been appointed the consultant to prepare the DPRs keeping in mind its vast experience in handling such giant PPP projects across the country. Even the tourism ministry has appointed IL&FS to prepare the DPR for the much-awaited beach corridor between Visakhapatnam and Bheemili along the Bay of Bengal at an estimated cost of about Rs 45 crore, Satyanarayana added.

    "We hope that once the DPRs are ready, the government will sanction the project works by 2014. Once the projects get sanctioned, GVMC will ground the projects by the end of 2015 by completing all the formalities, including tenders, on a priority basis. IL&FS charges Rs 30 lakh per month to prepare the DPR, which works out to Rs 3.6 crore per year," the GVMC chief said.

    The 10 projects to be taken up under the public private partnership (PPP) mode include installation of light emitting diode (LED) streetlights in 72 wards spread across 534 square kilometres, foot over bridges, footpaths, multi-level parking, desalination project, commercial complexes, modernization of guest rooms, housing projects for the poor and needy, among others.

    The permanent housing projects for the poor and needy being given top priority include construction of houses under the Rajiv Aawas Yojana on 16.50 acres of railways land for slum dwellers of seven slum areas of the city. Plans are also afoot to develop housing projects on 10 acres of land at Chamalapalli and 35 acres at China Mushidiwada under RAY.

    The other major projects are the Rs 80 crore desalination project to be taken up on 20 acres along the coast in GVMC limits. The project proposes to desalinate at least 10 million litres of water per day and is aimed at supplying water to industries and indirectly enhancing water supply to domestic consumers, the civic chief explained.

    GVMC chief engineer B Jayaram Reddy said the corporation has decided to first build a 10 MLD plant and then ramp it up to 100 MLD. The pre-feasibility study report for the project has already been submitted by Andhra Pradesh Industrial and Technical Consultancy (APITCO) to GVMC a few months ago following studies at Singapore and Dubai.

    Also on the cards is the replacement of the nearly 80,000 fluorescent streetlights in the city with LED streetlights at a cost of Rs 110 crore. GVMC, which spends Rs 12.89 crore per annum on street lighting, is expected to save Rs 5 crore per annum with LED street lighting.

    Apart from these, the development of nine foot over bridges (FOB) in addition to the existing 19 FOBs in the city as well as development of foot paths along 72 km of roads are also among the 10 proposed projects, the civic chief said.

    Civic body to take up 10 new projects by 2015 - The Times of India
  • 'Develop infrastructure on east coast to decongest west'

    VISAKHAPATNAM: With ports on west coast being congested, east is the best option and the government must join hands with private partners to build infrastructure and help the industry move eastwards, said Anand E Sitaraman, vice-president of shipping logistics firm Transworld GLS.

    Addressing the East Coast Maritime Business Summit here on Friday, Sitaraman said that infrastructure including superhighways is essential in order to boost growth on the east coast. Furthermore, it's imperative to reduce delays in transportation, which can be done with the formation of relevant corridors.

    Considering the congestion at a few ports, he said, "The solution is dehubbing congested ports and using alternate gateways." Stressing that delays eventually burn a hole in the pocket of the common man, Sitaraman said, "Logistics costs add on due to delays and in the end the common man has to pay. It further results in inflation and unnecessary cost increase."

    Mentioning that the fastest port is also the most cost-effective, he said the east coast offers tremendous opportunity considering the significant growth witnessed in Myanmar and Bangladesh. Observing that there is a lot of potential in Myanmar trade, he said that better policies to transfer cargo from the east to west coast of the country have to be implemented.

    Echoing the words of Sitaraman, former Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), Vizag zone, chairman R V S Raju said, "It's easier to ship cargo from China to Visakhapatnam, rather than from Gujarat, which is a part of the same country."

    Pointing out a few bottlenecks, he said interstate check-posts have to be replaced with integrated check-posts along the highways. Citing a study, which said that 54% time is spent on documentation during transportation of cargo, he said multi-modal linkages, including the development of inland waterways, have to be developed in order to reduce costs

    .Meanwhile, referring to challenges, Vizag Special Economic Zone ( VSEZ) commissioner S Kishore said pharma companies are still doing exports via Mumbai and there is a need to promote these exports via AP, adding that east coast holds a lot of potential.

    On the Visakhapatnam-Kakinada Petroleum, Chemical and Petrochemical Investment Region (VK-PCPIR) he said, "This is one area, which will give growth impetus to Vizag."

    'Develop infrastructure on east coast to decongest west' - The Times of India
  • Govt brings civic bodies under Essential Services Maintenance Act

    VISAKHAPATNAM: With the ongoing Samaikyandhra stir paralyzing civic services, the state government on Saturday issued a GO bringing all the 162 municipalities and 19 municipal corporations, including Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) under the Essential Services Maintenance Act (ESMA) for a period of six months with effect from September 23. The move prohibits strikes, hartals or bandhs by employees of all the civic bodies across the state.

    In the order, MAUD principal secretary Adhar Sinha said the GO covers essential services like water supply, sanitation, slaughter-houses, markets, medical facilities, sweeping of streets and solid waste management.

    Responding to the order, GVMC commissioner M V Satyanarayana said that currently GVMC staff looking after the essential services was not participating in the protests and there was no disruption in these services so far. However, if the essential services' staff goes on protests, action would be taken against them as per the ESMA, the civic chief added.

    Meanwhile, GVMC Employees and Workers Association president M Ananda Rao said, "As on date we have carried out our protests without interrupting public services like water supply, street lights, among others. About 6,000 employees, including regular and contract workers, discharging essential services in GVMC don't care about such warnings. If needed, the emergency services' staff too will take part in the protests."

    Govt brings civic bodies under Essential Services Maintenance Act - The Times of India
  • Auction of row houses and Vuda layouts to be held next month

    VISAKHAPATNAM: The Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (Vuda) vice chairman N Yuvaraj has said that the proposed auction for allotment of Vuda row housing units and plots in various layouts of Vuda will be conducted as per schedule.

    He said the auction of disposal of row housing projects at Rushikonda will be held on October 5 and for plots in various layouts on October 11 and 12. The last date for applying online for both the row houses and plots is September 30.

    Those who want to apply online should submit the printouts along with the deposit amount by way of bank demand drafts before the date as no applications will be accepted beyond September, 30, he cautioned. "As on Monday, Vuda received 45 applications for the row housing projects and 272 for plots in layouts," Yuvaraj said.

    According to him, three applications for three plots in Adibhatlanagar layout, two for one plot in Bheemili layout, 68 applications for 22 plots in Cyber Valley sector-I layout, 25 for 11 plots in Cyber Valley sector-II, two applications for one plot in Gandigundam layout, four applications for four plots in Chilukuri Joint Venture layout, three for three plots in Kurmannapalem layout, 54 applications for 17 plots in government lands layouts in Madhurawada, 93 applications for 24 plots in Vuda-Godavari joint venture layout in Narava, five applications for one plot in Babametta layout and 13 applications for four plots in Kanapaka Ayyannapeta layout of Vizianagaram have been received so far.

    Yuvaraj said that as per rules, the auction and allotment will be cancelled in cases where only a single application has been received. He further stated that no application will be issued or received on the day of the auction. The auction process will be taken up unit wise and plot wise. Two persons on each application will be allowed to participate in the auction proceedings and the applicants have been advised to take printouts of auction slips from their online application.

    Yuvaraj said the applicants will be informed on shortfalls, if any, in the applications from September 27 and the venue of the auction will be intimated to the applicants separately. Bank counters will be provided at the auction venue for payment of additional deposit amounts and spot payments, Yuvaraj said.

    Auction of row houses and Vuda layouts to be held next month - The Times of India