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.
Read more
302 Replies
Sort by :Filter by :
  • Vizag realty all set to take wing

    VISAKHAPATNAM: The reality of state bifurcation may be slowly sinking in for the people of Seemandhra, but for the realtors there's no time to be lost. In the last fortnight, the sector has seen hectic activity with realtors in the Port City stating that the number of enquiries for purchasing property has shot up by nearly 25-30% during the last two weeks following the passage of the T Bill in Rajya Sabha on February 20. They expect the number of buyers to increase at the onset of April, when the new financial year takes off.

    Speaking to TOI, senior manager (sales and marketing) at Shriram Properties T Ravi Shankar said, "The interest is definitely visible. There have been quite a lot of enquiries during the last two weeks. People from Chennai, Hyderabad and the US have been calling up. Once certain things related to the special package are disclosed, we can definitely expect the queries to translate into property sales."

    According to him, there is definitely going to be increased buying once infrastructure projects or major educational institutions such as an IIT or IIM are allocated for this region. Also, he pointed out that once the buying spree gets underway, prices may also head northwards in the next two months.

    Concurring, Swathi Promoters managing director Ramesh Reddy said, "There is a substantial increase in enquiries from people in the neighbouring districts as well as some people from Rayalaseema." Noting that purchases are also expected to start soon, he said: "Enquiries are a good symptom. If 10 people enquire, then one person will purchase. During this month, finalisation of accounts and such aspects take precedence. People also need around one month's time to pool resources together for purchases. We can see some activity during the next month."

    Optimistic about growth in realty in the coming days, managing director of Chilukuri Housing Project, Srinivas Chilukuri, said, "Previously people were not quite sure if the division of the state will take place. But now that everything is finalised and only the decision pertaining to the selection of the capital city for residual Andhra Pradesh is left, people know that apart from Hyderabad, Vizag is the only other place with a bit of IT presence. So this will spur growth in the coming days."

    At the same time another realty consultant said, "Usually a change of government also plays a crucial role. Whenever a new government comes to power, we can expect some announcement of projects that will give a boost to real estate activity. So any positive announcements in the coming days about Vizag can trigger a boom time for real estate."

    Vizag realty all set to take wing - The Times of India
  • Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authorities urges property buyers to be cautious of bogus realtors

    VISAKHAPATNAM: With the bifurcation sparking off a race to purchase property, Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authorities (Vuda) authorities have urged buyers to be cautious, especially while buying plots.

    "Anticipating the development of Vizag post bifurcation, there has been a mad scramble to acquire property. People should thoroughly examine the background of realtors and layouts before purchasing. They can also approach Vuda for clarifications and cross-check the LP number of the layout where they want to purchase a plot," said a Vuda official.

    "People don't even buy chocolate without checking its expiry date or other factors like quality and quantity, but strangely they get trapped easily in realty frauds," said a senior Vuda official.

    Vuda has already blacklisted 37 developers as on March 7, mostly at Sabbavaram, Payakaraopeta, Achyuthapuram, Bhogapuram, Rambilli, Payakaraopeta, Anakapalle and Kothavalasa during enforcement raids.

    Vuda vice-chairman N Yuvaraj said that unfair practices in the realty business cannot be controlled merely by enforcement measures by Vuda or other authorized agencies against bogus layouts or developers but it is the property buyers who should thoroughly check the antecedents of developers. "At our end, we have so far blacklisted some layouts during enforcement raids and put up the details of the blacklisted layouts on the Vuda's site," Yuvaraj said, warning illegal property developers of stringent action.

    According to VV Sreenivasa Rao, who represents Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI), as many as 13 bogus private financers-cum-realtors had duped lakhs of people of nearly Rs 20,000 crore in the last two years in the realty business in Vizag district alone.

    Sreenivasa Rao, who is also co-ordinator of the Visakhapatnam district unit of Sodhana, a reach organization of Sundarayya Vignana Kendram, said a survey conducted by them at Jaggannapeta village of Achyuthapuram mandal in Visakhapatnam district had revealed that nearly 800 households out of the total 1100 households in the village were victims of bogus financial-cum-realty services firm Secured Investment Making Services (SIMS). "Government agencies should take steps to check such fraudulent firms before they come in contact with the people," he said.

    Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authorities urges property buyers to be cautious of bogus realtors - The Times of India
  • Govt housing projects fuelling juvenile sexual crimes?

    VISAKHAPATNAM: It may seem strange, but some of the serious sexual offences committed by juveniles are indirectly being triggered by the government's one-room welfare housing projects in slum areas, claim officials associated with state government run children welfare organisations and NGOs.

    Since the entire family is cramped in a one-room house, children and teenagers of impressionable age are exposed to the bedroom activities of the family elders as well as uncensored television programmes, which are pushing them towards anti-social behaviour, they pointed out.

    Not only juvenile sexual crimes but such one-room housing projects, where 4-8 family members are huddled together in urban slums, trigger other social taboos and crimes such as incest and child abuse, say social scientists.

    Advocate Abdul Raqueeb, a member of the state government's child welfare committee and former member of Juvenile Justice Board, Vizag, pointed out, "At the time of in-camera counseling with juveniles caught for committing crimes of sexual nature, we found that the dwelling plan plays a major role in shaping the psyche of these teenagers, most of whom are in the vulnerable age bracket of 13-17 years. Asked how they got involved with sexual offences, the children confided that they just tried to emulate what they see their parents or other family members in their room do. The illiterate or semi-literate parents don't even realise that the child is watching them in a compromising position. And the juvenile offender doesn't even understand the gravity of the crime or its implications."

    Further, instead of reducing the age of juvenile offenders' from 18 to 16 years as is being mulled by different organizations at the national level, it's imperative that family elders be regularly counseled to exercise caution and planners of housing projects display the foresight to anticipate such socio-psychological problems of one-room houses and instead construct two rooms for families with growing children, added advocate Raqueeb.

    According to NGOs, even though sexual crimes committed by juveniles aren't frequent, one or two out of every 10 crimes of various types are committed by them and the home atmosphere has been found to play a crucial part. K Swarna Kumari, secretary, Mahila Action NGO and a member of the state government's child welfare inspection committee, stated, "The tiny 50-square yard homes comprising a single bedroom, kitchen and washroom for families offer no privacy and are giving rise to socio-psychological complexities. It's the nature of children to emulate or copy whatever they see without understanding the consequences. The television channels and CDs that are viewed uncensored by the children in that same room and seeing the father or other elder males of the family coming back home in an inebriated state also nudge them towards sexual offences and alcohol addiction."

    Other social problems and offences associated with such housing include incest and sexual abuse. Professor of social work at Andhra University ABSV Ranga Rao averred, "We find that besides witnessing sexual activities of elders and ography, living in a one-room house often leads to incestuous relationships between brother and sister or even sexual abuse of the adolescent girl child by the father or uncle living under the same roof, though such tabooed relationships remain under-reported. Therefore, even though government's welfare housing projects are welcome, they should be judiciously planned taking the socio-psychological consequences into consideration."

    All these activities have long-term socio-psychological implications on the vulnerable teenagers and push them towards anti-social and sexually deviant behaviour, maladjustment and sexual crimes, pointed out sociologists and psychologists.

    Psychological counsellor at the Government Juvenile Home, Visakhapatnam, Rama Murthy, said, "There are around 80 children in our home at present. Around 25-30 deviant kids need regular counselling every month. Some of these kids committed sexual offences after regularly witnessing carnal activities or extramarital affairs of their parents and even fathers beating up their mothers. Watching the mother with other men led to hatred and anger towards women in the long run. As curious children copy whatever they see, parental education and counselling is equally important in such areas so that parents exercise caution while behaving in front of children."

    Govt housing projects fuelling juvenile sexual crimes? - The Times of India
  • Vizag North in search of basic amenities

    VISAKHAPATNAM: The Visakhapatnam North Assembly constituency may be considered upmarket comprising as it does several upmarket areas like Seethammadhara, Sithampeta and Marripalem, but when it comes to basic infrastructure such as roads and water supply it leaves a lot to be desired. What's more, slums have sprung up in certain areas like Thatichetlapalem and Kancharapalem proving to be a sore spot in the segment.

    That perhaps explains why controlling vehicular traffic, revamping roads, 24x7 water supply, construction of junior college, upgradation of polytechnic and ITI institutes as well as removal of slums are some of the major issues that are on top of the mind of voters in the segment.

    Irked at none of the earlier elected representatives, including Tynala Vijaya Kumar (2009 to 2014), having satisfactorily resolving the issues plaguing the Assembly segment during their tenures, many voters in the constituency said they were tired of representatives making tall promises and were looking forward to someone who could address their basic needs.

    The Assembly segment comprises areas like Seethammadhara, Sithampeta, TPT Colony, Gurudwara, Resapuvanipalem, Maddilapalem, Lalitanagar, Narasimhanagar, Akkayyapalem, NGGOs Colony, Madhavadhara, Gandhinagar, Railway New Colony, Venkateswara Colony, Shanthinagar, Kancharapalem, Jai Bharat Nagar, Marripalem and Kapparada, Gollalapalem, Thatichetlapalem, Gavara Thatichetlapalem, Saligramapuram, Nakkavanipalem, Vidyutnagar and Satya Sai Nagar.

    Most of the roads in the constituency, especially those connecting the National Highway-16 to the RTC bus station at Dwarakanagar via Sitampeta, Akkayyapalem and Lalithanagar, and to Seethammadhara have been in a pathetic condition for the last five years.

    K Nageswara Rao, a Seethammadhara resident and retired railway employee who has worked under the Secunderabad-based South Central Railway, said: "Vehicular traffic and the bad condition of roads are the main problems. Though drainage system and other amenities are relatively better, the roads in particular have been neglected by the authorities," Rao said.

    Apart from roads, education too is a key concern for voters in the area as the long-pending proposal of a junior college at Marripalem is lying unfulfilled. "Educational institutions like the government polytechnic, ITI and some degree colleges are languishing due to neglect in the past five years," said K Ramana Chari, a pan shop vendor in the area.

    Pragada Srinivasu, secretary, Association for Regional Tribal Development (urban wing), pointed out, "Slums are the black spots in the otherwise posh Vizag North constituency. The elected representatives will have to work sincerely for a slum-free Vizag North segment by allocating houses and employment opportunities to the slum dwellers, most of whom are migrant workers from neighbouring areas and states. Most of the slums are located at Thatichetlapalem and Kancharapalem," he added.

    However, sitting MLA Tynala Vijay Kumar, who bagged the seat on a Congress ticket and is now eyeing a YSRCP ticket, said he had proposed a 1.6 km long road tunnel project passing through Simhachalam Hills from Narasimhanagar with financial support from the state and central governments to ease traffic woes of the segment as a major chunk is connected with NH-16 and other arterial roads. He blamed the lack of cooperation from the Congress government as well as the Samaikyandhra stir for his inability to see the project through. "Traffic problems here can be resolved by repairing roads, developing subways and laying the tunnel," he said.

    Meanwhile, according to election officials at the Visakhapatnam collectorate, the constituency had a total of 2,53,617 voters as on January 31, 2014, including 1,26,847 male and 1,26,770 female voters. "The number of voters may increase as new voters have registered for voter identity cards on March 9 as well," Suryanarayana Murthy, superintendent, Election Cell, said.

    Vizag North in search of basic amenities - The Times of India
  • Dutch firm to prepare sanitation plan for Vizag

    VISAKHAPATNAM: Noida-based consultancy firm Royal Haskoning DHV, part of the Dutch Royal Haskoning group, has been commissioned by the Union ministry of housing, urban development and poverty alleviation to undertake a study and prepare an action plan for implementing a clean sanitation programme covering the entire Greater Visakhapatanam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) limits.

    The project, called capacity building for urban development, is expected to be completed within the next four months, GVMC commissioner MV Satyanarayana said, pointing out that the consultancy firm will prepare an action plan and submit a report to the central government. The report will also include the requirement for necessary funds from the Centre and state, apart from the share to be put in by GVMC, based on the financial status of the civic body.

    Showcasing the highlights of the preliminary studies to various stakeholders on Wednesday, team leader Ashit Neema said their team had been conducting a study for the last 20 days in the city and had looked at drinking water supply, sanitation, drainages and solid waste management.

    As per the 2011 census, Neema said 68% of the houses in the city were getting clean drinking water whereas 17% were dependent on borewells and another 15% on wells. Furthemore, coming to the sanitation aspect, he said about 86% people had access to toilets, 4% were dependent on public toilets and 10% has no access to toilets. Also, he said that only 60% of city had drainages and that there was a need to strengthen the city's solid waste management system.

    Neema said the project would be taken up in eight phases, with the first phase being constituting a city sanitation task force, followed by various rounds of workshops to make stakeholders understand the problems and resolve them . He said that a final city sanitation plan would be released after four months or so as part of the project in order to make Vizag a clean city.

    Dutch firm to prepare sanitation plan for Vizag - The Times of India
  • Will Vizag metro rail project be a boon or bane for city?

    Will Vizag metro rail project be a boon or bane for city? - The Times of India
  • Now, purchase flats at vegetable markets

    Now, purchase flats at vegetable markets - The Times of India

    VISAKHAPATNAM: Who said only vegetables are available at markets in your neighbourhood? Nowadays, you can even purchase flats or plots, if you have enough dough and are keen on purchasing property in the city.

    Surprised? Real estate agents are pitching their tents outside rythu bazars, shopping malls and even super markets to canvass for their projects to prospective clients, who arrive in droves usually with family members for shopping for the week. According to realty sources, the trend has caught up during the last few months in the port city. Marketing professionals armed with brochures wait near parking spaces of markets and interact with customers, who have completed their shopping exercise.

    What's more, if customers evince interest, these professionals will take them in a car for a visit to the site. Rythu bazars located in MVP Colony, Seethammadhara, Pedawaltair apart from shopping malls near Maddilapalem, Rama Talkies Road and even the parking space near Poorna Market are among the places where you can notice realtors making sales pitch in the city.

    "There are usually around 15 members from the real estate agencies, who usually wait outside the rythu bazars for reaching out to customers. While we have around 7,000 to 8,000 people coming to the rythu bazar on weekly days, it is around 12,000 to 15,000 on Sundays and during festivals," said a rythu bazar official.

    "Super markets and rythu bazars provide us with a greater reach compared to other marketing practices. With more than 12,000 people visiting the rythu bazaar especially on Sunday, we can get access to more number of people," said K Manoj, one of the marketing professionals pitching customers outside MVP Colony on Sunday.

    He said, "We can also wait and see the type of customers that we want to approach. Some of the customers, who come in flashy cars are among those, who we tend to approach because there is a higher chance for the sale to materialise. Even though the sale doesn't happen immediately, it gives us an opportunity to showcase our product (flats or plots) to them."

    Another marketing professional Nagaraju L said, "The customers come along with their family, which is another key point for us. It is rare to get a complete family together in today's world of busy schedules. But, here mostly the husband, wife and sometimes children are also there, so we can clearly explain to them the advantages of our plots. We can clarify each family member's doubts if any and that will certainly help in converting it into a sale."

    "Being a Sunday, more people will be willing to go and visit the site during the evening or so. It works out better from a business point of view," he added.
  • First phase of Vizag-Chennai corridor to take off by June

    First phase of Vizag-Chennai corridor to take off by June - The Times of India
  • Bhogapuram airport project flies into trouble

    BHOGAPURAM (Vizianagaram): The proposed greenfield Vizag international airport project at Bhogapuram seems to be headed for turbulence even take-off, with people from nearly 16 panchayats up in arms against the state government's high flying plans.

    Nearly 10,000 people from these villages have now decided to lay siege to the arterial National Highway-16, which connects Kolkata to Chennai, on Friday and also stage a protest at the tehsildar's office. The decision, which was taken at a meeting of various political parties, including the ruling TDP, here on Thursday, is expected to bring traffic to a grinding halt on the highway on Friday.

    Some of the leaders of the protesters are already planning to rope in environmental activist Medha Patkar, who is expected to visit Bhogapuram in a week or two, sources said.

    Even as the agitators are gearing up for the massive protest, cops have already issued a warning that those blocking the national highway would be arrested, sources said.

    According to sources, the protesters have already decided not to allow any government official into their villages and some officials, including DRDA project director Delhi Rao, DWMA PD Prasanthi and tehsildar Lakshma Reddy had a first-hand experience of the villagers' hostility when they reviewed the land acquisition process at the tehsildar office on Wednesday. They had a bitter experience at Chakivalasa village when they tried to interact with the villagers, who vehemently voiced their opposition to the government's decision and raised slogals like 'Don't want Airport and Go Back' forcing the officials to beat a hasty retreat.

    The government is learnt to have already assigned the land acquisition job to four deputy collector rank officers, 12 tehsildars and 25 deputy tehsildars led by DRDA PD Delhi Rao and other officials. The government plans to acquire land from A Ravivalasa, Gudepuvalasa, Chepalakancheru, Kouluwada, Tudem, Basavapalli, Mujeru, Chakivalasa, Kongavanipalem, and some part of the Bhogapuram village. The mandal, which has a population of around 55,000, is mainly dependent on agriculture.

    Sources said that though the district administration has been planning to conduct gram sabhas on the issue, it has been aware of the building public anger against the project in the mandal.

    TDP Bhogapuram mandal president Karottu Satyam told TOI that they have been dependent on agriculture for their livelihood, which they would lose if the airport comes up. "We thought our experienced leader Naidu would develop the state, but not in this way. The government is literally pushing us onto the roads," he complained.

    The agitating villagers also accuse the district administration of keeping them in the dark on the proposal. "They have not told us how much land they will take from each village. The entire mandal of Bhogapuram has 28,000 acres, of which they are planning to aquire 15,000 plus acres. What will be left there to cultivate?' asked former agricultural marketing committee chairman Uppada Suryanarayana of Congress.

    Sources pointed out that each acre of farmland costs anywhere from Rs 30 lakh to a maximum of Rs 1.20 crore if the land is located very near to NH-16 and following the low prices being offered by the Naidu government to farmers in the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) in the capital region not too many farmers are interested in giving up their lands for the project.

    "The government plans to take the consent of the people with force. Most of the villages were affected by cyclone Hudhud and have not yet got proper compensation till date.

    They have yet to give notice and conduct 'Dandora' in villages about the gram sabhas for which 21 days notice has to be given," alleged YSRCP leader Kakarlapudi Srinivasa Raju.

    Bhogapuram airport project flies into trouble - The Times of India
  • Traffic way below requisite levels for Vizag metro rail

    VISAKHAPATNAM: Does the Port City really need a metro rail project? Not really, suggest the findings of the traffic survey conducted as part of the groundwork for chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu's much-vaunted Vizag Metro Rail project.

    Mass public transport system projects like the metro rail are based on the passengers per hour per direction (PPHPD) value of a city. As per the basic requirements for a metro rail project, a city should have a PPHPD of at least 15,000 for the project to be viable.

    However, according to sources, the traffic survey carried out by an agency appointed by the Delhi Metro Rail Corporation has found that Vizag has a maximum PPHPD of just 11,000.

    What is more surprising is that hardly 10% of the spots along the three proposed corridors have a PPHPD of 11,000 passengers with most of the remaining spots having a poor PPHPD ranging from 5,000 and 8,000 passengers, sources added.

    The areas with a passenger flow of 11,000 PPHPD are NAD Junction on National Highway-16 and Maddilapalem. The areas with the lowest PPHPD is the Old Post Office. Some other spots with less than 10,000 PPHPD are Dwarakanagar, Jagadamba Centre, Thatichetlapalem and Siripuram Junction.

    Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation authorities said they have their fingers crossed that the PPHPD would reach the desired rate by the time the VMR project is completed. "The PPHPD rate in the city will surely reach the desired level in several areas of the city in the next three years," the GVMC officer said. According to DMRC officials, the first phase of VMR is slated to be completed before 2018.

    Prof B Mohan Venkata Ram from Andhra University's department of commerce and management studies, who has conducted research on safety management and public transport, said the PPHPD values could have increased had the previous rulers worked to this end by encouraging use of public transport. However, the rulers have realised the importance of Vizag, which is one of the best generators of economic moments in the country, only after bifurcation.

    "The PPHPD value can reach the desired figure if the work category commuters (public and private sector employees and students) move from personal transport to public transport. Nearly 80% of the work category commuters currently use personal transport in Vizag. They are not willing to switch to public transport due to various reasons, including unreliability of transport. However, Vizag deserves a metro rail project and hopefully the PPHPD will increase as Vizag has been projected as one of smart cities in the country and one of the fastest growing in the country apart from residuary AP's largest city," Venkata Ram explained.

    Traffic way below requisite levels for Vizag metro rail - The Times of India
  • JNNURM housing scheme fails to attract beneficiaries in Visakhapatnam

    VISAKHAPATNAM: Problems continue to plague the housing scheme under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) in the city.

    Only 6,500 beneficiaries have so far occupied the houses since they were allotted in 2010. The corporation had constructed 14,139 houses and of them, 12,348 were handed over to the beneficiaries. The state government had sanctioned 15320 houses in 39 layouts in the city during 2008. As many as 1791 houses were not allotted due to court cases.

    Sources said 5,848 houses are still vacant with the beneficiaries not coming forward to occupy them. The reasons are many. They include enrolment of bogus beneficiaries and lack of basic facilities like water supply, electricity, roads, drainage, streetlights and community halls.

    CPI leader JV Satyanarayana Murthy said the authorities concerned identified 1.42 lakh people as homeless during 2006-07. Following the survey, the state government had sanctioned the housing scheme under JNNURM in 2008. District CPM secretary Lokanadham said about 20% of the houses were allotted to bogus beneficiaries.

    A house committee was appointed in 2012 to look into the alleged irregularities in the scheme. Pragada Srinivasu, secretary for Association for Regional Tribal Development (urban wing), said, "We have found that a person had bought 35 houses on fictitious names at Pineapple Colony Layout."

    When contacted, GVMC commissioner Pravin Kumar said 90 per cent of the work on infrastructure had been completed.

    "We will complete the pending work soon. We have released Rs 1 crore to take up repairs to houses damaged during the cyclone Hudhud," he added.

    JNNURM housing scheme fails to attract beneficiaries in Visakhapatnam - The Times of India
  • Encroachments eating into Bavikonda Hill?

    VISAKHAPATNAM: The 2000-year-old Buddhist heritage site on Bavikonda Hill near Bheemili Road seems to be facing a threat of encroachment as a part of the hill, very close to the heritage site, has been fenced off allegedly for private construction activity against archaeological norms.

    The private site supervisor, who happened to be on the spot when this correspondent visited the place, said a private building is coming up. Sources indicated that a former chief minister's kin owns the government' land but authorities seem to be unaware of the issue.

    The Bavikonda Buddhist Complex, located atop a 130-metre hill nearly 20 km from the Port City, is one of the four Buddhist heritage sites in the district and is situated close to the Thotlakonda Buddhist heritage site. No tourist could be spotted on the sprawling complex, which houses various kinds of ancient stupas and viharas, but is now overrun by dry reeds. The watchman, Ram Naidu, said, "Hardly any visitors come here. Usually, youngsters carrying liquor bottles frequent the place."

    Barely a five-minute walk from the heritage site through a red earthen track takes one to a huge fenced plot admeasuring around six-seven acres. When asked about the fenced plot, a person who identified himself as the site supervisor Acchu Babu, said, "Some building is coming up. I'm not sure whether it will be an institute or a residential building."

    Reliable sources, who visited the site earlier, indicated that one of the persons present there had mentioned that a certain private educational institution, which owns a chain of colleges, might be building a new centre there. Interestingly, the educational institution in question belongs to the kin of a former Andhra Pradesh chief minister. In fact, according to sources, most of the land up the hills between Rushikonda-Bheemili Road are benami property of politicians.

    The entire hill legally belongs to the state department of archaeology and museums. When asked about the issue, AP State Department of Archaeology and Museums assistant director K Chitti Babu denied any knowledge of upcoming construction activity in the area. "The entire 360 acres belong to our department and is a protected area. The fence could also be a boundary for our site. In case anyone attempts to encroach, action will be taken against them. There are some parcels of land on Bavikonda Hill that were given to private parties earlier by the state government," Chitti Babu admitted.

    However, when asked Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (Intach) member and noted heritage activist Rani Sarma stated, "Whether government or private, nobody is allowed to construct any concrete structure in and around protected areas and certainly not up Bavikonda Hill as it's against archaeological norms. We have to be cautious that no such constructions come up in future either."

    Encroachments eating into Bavikonda Hill? - The Times of India
  • NH16 beautification project flayed

    VISAKHAPATNAM: The proposed beautification of National Highway-16 seems to have run afoul of various political parties, voluntary organisations and the public, all of whom are now demanding that the highway first be expanded to six lanes to resolve the rising traffic woes before it is beautified.

    As per the plan, the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC), Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (Vuda) and the National Highway Authority of India (NHAI) are to jointly take up the beautification project on a stretch of over 50 km within the GVMC limits.

    They also expressed doubts about the NH-16 expansion works, which were approved by the Central government in 2012. As part of this, the existing four-lane highway was to be widened to six lanes at an estimated cost of Rs 839 crore.

    According to sources, three minor bridges on the main carriageway and 10 service roads spanning 81.816 km, eight flyovers, modernisation of 267 junctions, 11 vehicular underpasses, construction of 143 culverts, four truck bays, 25 bus bays on either sides of the highway and 34 bus shelters were to be constructed under the plan that was approved during the tenure of Daggubati Purandeswari as Vizag MP in 2012.

    The tenders were finalised in August 2012 and a contract was signed with Transstroy India Limited to complete the project within 30 months. However, the contract was cancelled in 2013 as the firm did not adhere to the norms and put many conditions, sources said.

    "The central and state governments are spending an estimated Rs 100 crore on the beautification project. They should take up the expansion works before beautifying the stretch or else it will just be a waste of money," said former deputy mayor of Vizag, Kotharu Dorababu.

    "The highway is badly in need of expansion as the vehicle population in the city has crossed seven lakh and traffic to and from Visakhapatnam Port Trust, Gangavaram Port, Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, HPCL and other companies has shot up. The presence of industries in and around the city and Vizianagaram are also posing hazards for commuters," said retired IAS officer and Forum for Better Visakha convenor EAS Sarma.

    "We are not against the beautification project but feel that public money should not be wasted in this manner. At a time when the government is ready to spend thousands of crores of rupees on the metro rail project, it should also think about expanding the highway first to address the increasing vehicular traffic before going ahead with beautification," Uttarandhra Journalist Front secretary N Nageswara Rao said.

  • Defunct LED streetlights plunging Visakhapatnam's smart future into darkness?

    VISAKHAPATNAM: The ambitious LED street lighting project of the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC), which has been taken up in association with the State Energy Conservation Mission (SECM) and New Delhi-based Energy Efficiency Service Limited (EESL), a central public sector undertaking, has failed to yield the desired results in 'smart city' Vizag with nearly 10% of the total lights installed not functioning properly.

    Some of the areas facing problems are the stretch from VIP Road to Pedawaltair via Siripuram Junction, Peda Waltair to Isukatotha via Sivaji Park, Ushodaya Junction to MVP Double Road, Old Gajuwaka, Maharanipeta, Old Bus Stand, Madhurawada, Kancharapalem, Gnanapuram, East Point Colony, Chinawaltair, Seethammadhara, Narasimha Nagar, Madhavadhara and Murali Nagar.

    According to officials, as many as 88,000 street lights have been replaced by LED lamps by EESL so far against the first phase target of 91,775 street lights as per the official agreement inked between GVMC and EESL in September last year. In fact, the first phase should have been completed by February this year as per the agreement, but as many as 6775 street lights are yet to be replaced.

    Complaints about dysfunctional street lights, particularly LEDs, are still pouring in into GVMC's complaints box despite a series of reviews by commissioner Pravin Kumar on the functioning of street lights since he took charge in January this year.

    Saurabh Kumar, managing director, EESL, said the main reason for LED bulbs in the streetlights conking off is not manufacturing defects but power supply and infrastructure related issues like power surges, lack of proper cabling, poles, earthing and poor maintenance of transformers. "We have brought those factors to the attention of GVMC and Eastern Power Distribution Company of AP Limited. Regarding installation of the remaining bulbs, GVMC authorities are unable to identify the locations to fix the lights. Stocks are ready with our company and it is now up to the GVMC to act," Saurabh Kumar said.

    When contacted, P Ananda Rao, superintending engineer (electrical), GVMC, said that nearly 96% of the total 88,000 sodium vapour streetlights that were replaced with LED lamps were functioning in the city as per their survey. "For the remaining 4% lights (3,520), we are taking all possible steps to ensure that they function properly. The remaining streetlights under the first phase of the project will be installed in another 15 days and the second phase of the project, which will cover the BRTS route, will also begin soon," said Rao. Regarding the central monitoring control system, Rao said the system would also be operational in the next one week.

    Defunct LED streetlights plunging Visakhapatnam's smart future into darkness? - The Times of India
  • Where's the money for smart cities?

    VISAKHAPATNAM: At a time when the BJP-led NDA government is about to celebrate its first anniversary later this month, its plans for developing 100 smart cities in the country is yet to kick off.

    Even cities such as Vizag, Allahabad and Ajmer, which were selected for development during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's US visit in October last year, are yet to receive any allotment as the Centre is yet to finalise the smart city scheme, as per an RTI reply issued by the Union ministry of urban development (MoUD) on April 28 this year.

    Replying to RTI queries posed by TOI, the MoUD has stated: "The scheme of developing smart cities is

    at the formulation stage. The cities will be selected only after the scheme design is complete."

    At the same time, replying to a query on funds for the scheme, the MoUD said, "In the financial year of 2014-15, a combined allocation of Rs 2 crore for a new mission, including development of smart cities, along with an allocation of Rs 6,273.77 crore for development of 100 smart cities and JNNURM was made by the government."

    Incidentally, the allocation for smart cities is nearly Rs 786 crore lesser than what was announced by Union finance minister Arun Jaitley in the 2014-15 Union budget. While Jaitley had announced Rs 7,060 crore for 2014-15, the ministry, in its reply, has quoted Rs 6,273.77 crore.

    Further, the MoUD said, "In the current financial year (2015-16), an allocation of Rs 2,000 crore has been made for the smart cities scheme."

    However, no funds have been released by the MoUD for the project as yet. "It is stated that since the scheme of developing smart cities is at the formulation stage, no fund has been sanctioned/released out of the allocated fund."

    Incidentally, the smart city scheme also does not appear to have any particular time frame for development. The RTI reply also failed to provide a list of smart cities that have been identified under the scheme.

    The smart sting

    * Allocation of Rs 6,273.77 crore in 2014-15, Rs 2,000 crore in 2015-16

    * No funds sanctioned or released for smart cities so far

    * Scheme at the formulation stage, says MoUD

    * List of cities to be selected only after the scheme design is complete