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- Mafia laying illegal roads to transport laterite, say tribals TNN | Apr 25, 2017, 06.00 AM IST
Visakhapatnam: Villagers of Sarudugu panchayat in Natavaram mandal complained to district officials on Monday that the mining mafia has been illegally laying a road from Sundarakota to Torada for laterite mining and transportation.
Sundarakota PESA (Panchayats Extension to Scheduled Areas Act) committee secretary B Krishna said the road was being constructed without permissions from the forest and revenue departments. He said the mafia had mined around 60,000 tonne of laterite and was constructing the road to transport it.
"This will damage the environment lead to pollution in eight villages. The government recently gave permissions to only tribal Killo Lovaraju to excavate laterite in 40 acres, but no permission to transport it," he said, adding that ruling party leaders were supporting the mafia.
- GVMC finally wakes up to restore Yendada pond Sulogna Mehta| TNN | Updated: Apr 27, 2017, 08.08 AM IST
Yendada Junction got filled up with debris and garbage, the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) is all set to restore it. This follows requests for its revival from environment activists.
Clearing and desilting work of the water body has already commenced in the last few days and plans are being made for landscaping and developing a park and walking track around the lake, which would also enrich the biodiversity of the surrounding area. This was the only huge water body in the area of the size of three football fields. In 2008, a water pipeline was laid along the pond. Poles were also erected for power lines. Earth was filled by the side of the pond. Gradually, owing to siltation and mud deposition, the surface area and depth of the pond diminished and public also started throwing garbage in the shrunken pond. Even in summer, there used to be water in this pond. Water from the Kamabalakonda hills, a catchment area used to charge the ponds.
GVMC superintending engineer K Venugopal said, "In the last few years, several apartments have come up in Yendada. Without water bodies, Yedada started facing water crisis and the watertable dropped drastically during summer. So, we are reviving this pond to enable rainwater collection and recharging of surrounding borewells for residents' benefit. We will also put bunds and culverts so that if the maximum water level is reached, the excess water would drain out to surplus weir or culverts. Stone pitching is also being done to strengthen the banks." In addition to restoring the two-acre pond, the GVMC commissioner M Hari Narayana intends to beautify the area around the water body. "Under the commissioner's instructions, we would put walking paths around the water body, develop landscaping and greenery, put seats for walkers and people coming from the National Highwayside to rest and improve the road connectivity between Sagarnagar and Yendada by building a bypass road or lane. We hope to restore the water body within two months before the onset of monsoon," added Venugopal.
Environmentalist Sohan Hatangadi said, "It's good that GVMC has understood the importance of reviving this water body and has taken up the work by cleaning the pond, deepening it and strengthening the banks. The restoring of the pond and beautifying it with greenery and flowering plants would in turn attract various species of water birds and butterflies thus enriching the biodiversity of the area."
- Plastic pollution a major threat to city Sulogna Mehta| TNN | Updated: May 31, 2017, 04.40 PM IST
Visakhapatnam: Environment lovers and green organisations question the pollution created by the several tonnes of plastic that is generated during political and religious gatherings in the city. Currently, yellow plastic flags and flexi boards of politicians have flooded the city.
Whenever a fest, religious or political programme happens, flags, festoons, banners and flexi boards adorn the city at all junctions and road dividers. Added to it is the environment pollution caused by thousands of plastic bottles, water and buttermilk sachets.
Environment-conscious organisation India Youth for Society has recently written to GVMC commissioner M Hari Narayanan and urged him to implement Plastic Waste Management Rules 2016 and sought proper recycling and management of plastic waste. A copy of the letter was sent to district collector Pravin Kumar, AP Pollution Control Board and various political parties.
As per the Environment Act and orders of High Court of Andhra Pradesh (before division), political parties should avoid plastic items in their campaigns.
Appala Reddy, vice-president of the NGO India Youth for Society (IYFS) said, "We don't mean to target any particular political party or religious organisation. It goes for all political parties and organisers of fests and programmes. Be it Visakha Utsav or Giri Pradakshina or Mahanadu, we find there's no regulation or monitoring on the plastics used and discarded during the event and thereafter." The organisation had already begun a campaign P4 (Prevent Polythene - Protect Planet) to urge people to reduce plastic waste by using alternatives such as cloth bags and metal items.
"It's disheartening to see tonnes of plastic flags and flexi banners when we are trying to reduce plastic waste. These will clog the drainage, ail the cattle who consume it along with food and some of these will even enter the sea carried by wind. Besides, the huge cut-outs of politicians and banners placed on medians or hoardings near junctions can even lead to road mishaps," added Reddy.
- Reservoirs of hope but desilting is a far cry Sulogna Mehta| TNN | Jun 6, 2017, 10.39 AM IST
VISAKHAPATNAM: Another summer season has gone by and monsoon is almost here. It's that time of the year when all the reservoirs that supply water to the city partially or completely dry up.
Worse still, the mud, clay and debris settle on the beds of the reservoirs and on top of that, all sorts of garbage is thrown on them. But hardly, there's any effort on part of the departments concerned to desilt and clean the reservoirs.
Pre-monsoon cleaning of the reservoirs is necessary to enhance the depth and storage capacity of the tanks so that when the rains come, higher volume of water can be stored. But sadly, the reservoirs turn into dumpyards every summer.
The main reservoirs which supply water to Vizag include Thatipudi (297 feet depth), Gambheeram (126 ft), Mudasarlova (169 feet), Meghadrigedda (61 feet), Raiwada(374.01 feet) and Yeluru (283.46 feet).
An environmentalist from the NGO Wings of Life Foundation, requesting anonymity, said, "I visited Mudasarlova and Gambheeram reservoirs a few days ago and was shocked to see their condition. Not only had they partially dried up but Mudasarlova is full of debris and garbage. Water was being pumped into Gambheeram reservoir as it had almost dried up."
Vivek Rathod, a member of Mother Earth Environment Consciousness Society (Meecons), says, "Even though the city suffers from periodic water scarcity, the civic authorities aren't taking cleaning and desilting works seriously, which is necessary at least once a year before the monsoons to increase the capacity of the tanks by 5-10 per cent. But even if work is being taken up, it's progressing at a very slow pace and can't be completed before the rains set in." When contacted, superintending engineer from Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) Ananda Raosaid, "Desilting work of Mudasarlova Reservoir comes under GVMC whereas the irrigation department should look into the works of other reservoirs. As for Mudasarlova, we are removing 300 truckloads of debris from it but there has been no proposal till now to clear the reservoirs before monsoon."
- Land scams reignite Ganta Srinivasa Rao - Ayyannapatrudu fight Siva G| TNN | Updated: Jun 15, 2017, 02.04 PM IST
VISAKHAPATNAM: The land scams that recently came to light have reignited the fight between two ministers, Ganta Srinivasa Rao and Ayyannapatrudu, with the former writing a letter to chief minister Nara Chandrababu Naidu, saying that the latter's comments had brought a bad name to the party.
According to sources close to Ganta, the undated letter was handed over to the CM on June 4. However, it was leaked to the media by some unknown persons in Vijayawada.
Even before this, Ganta and Ayyanna have crossed swords on various occasions ever since the former rejoined the TDP from the Congress before the 2014 general elections. On one occasion, Ayyanna had made several allegations against Ganta before party supremo Naidu in an open meeting on the Beach Road issue prior to the elections.
In the backdrop of tampering and missing of records of Kommadi and Madhurawada lands attracting the attention of everyone across the state, R&B minister Ayyanna had commented that politicians who had migrated to Vizag were indulging in land scams supported by revenue officials and the police. Though he did not mention anyone's name, it was clear that he was referring to Ganta, who was in the eye of the storm following the land scams.
Piqued by frequent reports in a section of the media, Ganta wrote the letter to the CM, requesting him to conduct an inquiry into the land scams either by the CID or the CBI. While on the one hand he mentioned in his letter various schemes implemented in Vizag, on the other he reminded Naidu of the comments of Ayyanna that had gone viral in the state. In his comments at a press meet, Ayyanna had said that TDP leaders were involved in land scams in the district.
All these allegations made by the minister had not only tarnished the image of Vizag, but had also had an adverse impact on the TDP. Earlier during the Visakha Utsav, the minister's allegations over land pooling and Chandranna Sankranthi gifts had put the government in an embarrassing situation, Ganta said in his letter. Because of these kinds of incidents, Opposition leaders like Botsa Satyanarayana, D Purandeswari and some CPI and CPM leaders had been criticising the government and the party on regular intervals, the letter said.
Ganta said these baseless allegations had been proving dear to the image of the city and the entire state at a time when the CM was trying hard for the development of Andhra Pradesh.
"Your efforts to develop the state have gone waste with these allegations. I am requesting you to conduct a CBCID, or CBI, or judicial inquiry... to reveal the facts to the public," Ganta urged Naidu.
- Illegal cremation continues in Simhachalam residential areas V Kamalakara Rao| TNN | Jun 24, 2017, 12.28 PM IST
VISAKHAPATNAM: Despite a High Court direction as well as several warnings by the police and Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC), the practice of illegal cremations and burials continue unabated in the residential areas of Simhachalam.
The residents of Venkatadri Nagar Layout near Simhachalam temple under GVMC ward number 72 told TOI that the practice has been going on since 2011. "More than 100 dead bodies particularly of children, pregnant women and senior citizens are burnt or buried in the vacant plots. Several complaints to the police and the GVMC go unheard," said R Srinivasa Prasad, secretary of P&T Colony Plots and Residents' Welfare Association.
Following a series of TOI reports on the issue, GVMC commissioner M Hari Narayanan had visited the locality on April 25 and instructed his zonal office staff to take all possible measures to prevent the illegal practice. However, on Friday, Prasad said that there has been no improvement in the situation. "Unknown people still bring dead bodies to the vacant spot for cremations and burial," he added.
"We brought the issue to the notice of several GVMC commissioners since 2011. Hari Narayanan is the only civic chief who visited the spot and assured us that the issue will be solved. Unfortunately, three bodies were cremated at the same spot even after his visit. One body was brought for cremation on the day after the commissioner's visit," Prasad said. "We got a call from the local zonal officials that there will be a meeting with the residents on June 25. The officials did not mention the timings of the meeting. This is an indication that the officials are taking the matter seriously" Prasad added.
Another resident P Srinivasa Rao said, "Unless there is strong action from either the GVMC or police, the issue will not be solved. Everybody here wonders what leads to people cremating the bodies in front of houses located in Simhachalam."
- Visakhapatnam civic body chief asks residents to vacate dilapidated houses The commissioner urged denizens living in dilapidated houses at Chilakapeta, Thompson Street and Kobbari Thota to vacate their homes after the residents explained their problems to him.TNN | July 02, 2017, 09:49 IST
VISAKHAPATNAM: Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) commissioner M Hari Narayan visited various colonies in ward numbers 25 and 29 on Friday and inspected some of the dilapidated houses with collapsed staircases and roofs in the areas.
He urged denizens living in dilapidated houses at Chilakapeta, Thompson Streetand Kobbari Thota to vacate their homes after the residents explained their problems to him.
“If the residents vacate their homes and migrate to some other place in the city for a few months, GVMC will construct new housing complexes in place of the old ones,” Hari Narayanan said.
The civic chief also directed chief city planner RJ Vidyullatha to issue notices to all residents to vacate their houses and while urban community development wing director D Srinivasan has been asked to meet the residents and note down their problems.
He also directed the engineers to submit a report on the temporary renovation works needed in these houses.
Meanwhile, the civic chief also distributed e-bikes to the sanitation staff on Friday. He said that the bikes will help the staff in delivering their duties more effectively. “The e-bikes were launched by chief minister N Chandrababu Naidu during his recent visit to the city. We have purchased 100 e-bikes at a cost of Rs 24.7 lakh and will soon place 20 bikes on RK Beach Road,” he added.
- Land- grab: BJP MLA spills the beans to SIT sleuths TNN | Updated: Jul 30, 2017, 08:33 AM IST
VISAKHAPATNAM: Officials of the special investigation team (SIT) met Visakhapatnam North MLA P Vishnu Kumar Raju on Saturday and gathered details pertaining to alleged land-grabbing by some people in the district.
It may be recalled that the BJP MLA complained to the SIT stating that some individuals had encroached upon a few parcels of government land a week ago.
The MLA furnished details of documents related to 2.08 acres of government land occupied by a private person in Madhavadhara area. The land was allegedly occupied by Sanapala Seetaram in 2007-08. Of the total land, 7.08 acres was in survey numbers 13/1, 13/2 and 13/3. The government issued pattas for 2 acres each in survey nos. 13/1, 13/2 and13/3 to G Gopala Rao, Sanapala Ammanamma and Narsamma in 1975.
Raju said that the land in survey no. 13/3 was occupied by Seetaram and he filed a case in High Court too in 2013 by claiming that the land belongs to him. But the officials have failed to file counter till date. The private person had already sold out some part of the occupied land.
"He issued a newspaper statement on March 8, 2015 saying that the land belongs to him. I complained to the SIT that the land belongs to the government and it was occupied. Today, the SIT officials visited my house and took the details. I have given them certain documents and a copy of the writ petition filed by the private person," MLA Raju told TOI.
- Andhra Pradesh government to denotify reserve forest in Seetakonda to make way for IT hub Siva G| TNN | Sep 8, 2017, 12:54 IST Revenue department owns most of the hills—20 big hillocks and around 25-30 small ones—in and around Vizag city.
VISAKHAPATNAM: The city is set to lose precious forest land to make way for IT projects, residential townships and other concrete structures. Forest land, including the reserve forests of Seetakonda close to the Indira Gandhi Zoo, and casuarina plantations near Sagarnagaron the beaches towards Bheemili might soon be lost to the vagaries of development.
"The government is trying to accommodate various IT projects, educational institutions, office buildings, residential townships and other infrastructure required for the region. As there is no nonforest land available in the vi cinity of the city, the government has been actively considering forest land," a senior revenue official told TOI on condition of anonymity .
As per the AP Reorganization Act, the AP government can divert some forest land located within urban areas to make way for infrastructure, sources said. The government had issued a GO (RT No 343) through the environment forest science and technology department on Oct 17, 2014. Using this, the government has taken up denotification of forest land in the vici nity of three cities -Tirupati, Vijayawada and Visakhapatnam.
As part of this, the district administration has been trying to take over 150 acres of Seetakonda and over 60 acres of seaside land at Sagarnagar, which was earlier propo sed for tourism projects. Sources said the district administration has already called for four-five meetings in the last three months in this regard. Another meeting is likely to be held in a couple of weeks to decide on the extent of forest land to be diverted.
When the proposal was first mooted in 2015, the Visakhapatnam wing of Human Rights Council had approached the National Green Tribunal (NGT). "The tribunal said that it was in the proposal stage and nothing was on paper. If the government of India issues any order, it would take up the issue. My petition is still pending at the NGT," secretary of the council, Mantri Syam Prasad, said.
But the proposals have gained momentum. In place of the forest land acquired, the government is proposing to give land in Anantapur district to the forest department.
- SIT to submit land scam report after Sankranti Siva G| TNN | Updated: Jan 5, 2018, 12:23 IST
Scores of people thronging the collectiorate to submit their petitions in connection with the land scam.
VISAKHAPATNAM: The Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the tampering of government land is likely to submit its report to the government after Sankranti, according to officials.
The SIT was appointed in June last year and was headed by DIG-rank police officer Vineet Brijlal to probe what was infamously known as the 'Vizag land scam'.
After receiving two extensions, the SIT has enquired into around 337 cases and also verified No Objection Certificate (NOC) lands that were given to ex-servicemen. More than 150 officers were involved in the enquiry and verification of various issues on the field-level. More than eight teams conducted field surveys with the help of drone cameras. During the enquiry, the district administration recovered many acres of government lands.
One of the SIT members and joint collector of the district G. Srijana is busy in the fifth phase of Janmabhoomi, the state government's prestigious programme. According to sources, Janmabhoomi is also one of the reasons for the delay in preparation of the SIT report. Once the Janmabhoomi programme is over, the report would be submitted directly to the government through the city police commissioner who is acting as a coordinator.
The joint collector said they are doing final preparations of the report and it would be submitted very soon. With the recommendation of the SIT, police had registered cases against several employees and private individuals,
Former Bhimili tehsildar and deputy tehsildar were arrested. In another case, several cases were registered against one tehsildar along with the deputy inspector of the survey department.
- Segregation of plastic waste a must if plan has to succeed TNN | Updated: Jan 21, 2018, 13:18 IST
VISAKHAPATNAM: Professor of chemistry at Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai, Rajagopalan Vasudevan, was the one who had first came up with the idea of using plasticalong with bituminous for construction of roads. He received the patent for the idea in 2006. While Visakhapatnam only implemented the technology in 2017, other cities across the country have already tried the idea.
It is an irrefutable fact that in spite of the politicians' patent promise of "sadak, bijli paani", 'sadak' and 'pani' becomes a huge source of problem every monsoon. A case in point is Mumbai.
In 2009, Karnataka's Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (BMP) used polyblend for upgrading over 40% of its roads. In 2010 both the rest of Karnataka and New Delhi followed suit, the latter because of the Commonwealth Games.
In 2011 Pune got its first plastic-bitumen road. A mixture of waste plastic and bitumen was used to relay a 250-metre stretch of the road connecting Lawrence road and Cross road within Pune Cantonment Board limits.
Hyderabad experimented with these eco-friendly roads in 2016 and by 2017 they decided to lay more of such roads.
But in the excitement for pothole-free roads a lesson must not be forgotten. Visakhapatnam should learn from Chennai's mistake. In 2012, the Chennai Corporation proposed to lay more than 1,500 km of roads using plastic waste. But the plan fell through. The reason was the shortage of plastic waste of uniform 40 micron thickness. The lack of proper segregation of waste — even plastic — can hinder GVMC's grand plans of laying more plastic roads.
- Visakhapatnam urban development body plans 900-acre township in suburbs VISAKHAPATNAM: The Visakhapatnam Urban Development Authority (Vuda) is mulling to develop a satellite township on nearly 900 acres of land near Lankalepalem on the outskirts of Vizag city.
The district revenue officials recently concluded a survey of the land, which will be alienated to Vuda to facilitate the development of the township.
The 900-acre land piece is located at the intersection of five villages of three mandals in the district. These include Aganampudi in Gajuwaka mandal, Nanginarapadu and Gangavaram in Sabbavaram mandal and Pedamushidivada and East Marripalem in Parawada mandal.
The satellite township will also get a sports complex on a nearly 150-acre area. Even though the state government has been proposing satellite townships with walk-to-work concept within the last three years, it has not made any headway in Visakhapatnam due to various reasons. If everything goes as planned, this will be the first satellite township within the recent times.
Considering the earlier experiences with housing projects such as ‘row housing’ and others, which failed to find takers for all the houses, priority will be given to affordable housing in the satellite township. A Vuda official explained about the project and informed that a team of tehsildars has been roped in for the land enjoyment survey, which concluded recently.
On the other hand, Vuda is planning to go for the auction/lottery of plots in a 55-acre land in Cherlopallikhandam near Anakapalle. The layout was first proposed in 2010 under the land pooling scheme and so far, the land owners parted with an extent of about 40 acres and registered their lands in favour of Vuda. However, another 12 acres of land is not registered in the names of the ryots/land owners in the WebLand (a web-based land records management system of the government of Andhra Pradesh), who gave consent to give their land to the Vuda for development of this satellite township. Vuda now wants to sort out all these issues before fully developing the layout and proceed with the auction of plots.
- Choppy seas one of the prime reasons for eroding coastline V Kamalakara Rao| TNN | Jan 31, 2018, 02:25 IST
Visakhapatnam: Beach nourishment plays an important role in restricting coastal erosion, particularly during summers. Beach nourishment, or beach filling, is the practice of adding sand or sediment to beaches to combat erosion and increase beach width.
The rate of coastal erosion rises during pre-monsoon and monsoon seasons, owing to inclement weather conditions such as formation of low pressure, depression, deep depression and even cyclones. From April to June in India, the pre-monsoon or cyclonic seasons as per India Meteorological Department (IMD), Bay of Bengal witnesses such weather conditions.
Speaking to TOI, IMD director (forecast) Dr K Naga Ratna said that during the pre-monsoon season, particularly in April and May, sea conditions are rough under the influence of low pressures and cyclones.
In the 2017 pre-monsoon season, the cyclonic storm Maarutha formed over south Bay of Bengal and was relatively short-lived. This was followed by cyclon Mora, which too was short-lived. Besides, low pressure systems were also formed over the sea that led to high tides. Rough sea conditions lead to abnormal wave movements that is one of the prime reasons for coastal erosion at places like Visakhapatnam, said a senior scientist from the department of oceanography.
- GVMC goes about giving water tanks all-new look Umamaheswara Rao| TNN | Feb 1, 2018, 10:50 IST
VISAKHAPATNAM: In an effort to improve groundwater levels and make water bodies convenient leisure places, the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) has embarked on a mission to revamp the tanks in the newly-merged 32 villages.
It has already renovated or is renovating tanks in Yendada, Tunglam, Bakkannapalem, Darapalem and Nagarapalem. Now, the GVMC is planning to renovate some more tanks in the 2018-19 financial year.
For example, the water tank in Tunglam, which shrunk in size and was resembling a dump yard until a few days ago, now wears an altogether new look. GVMC has desilted and deepened the water body and also removed garbage from its bed. GVMC officials also strengthened the bund of the water body alongside by laying a walking path. On the other hand, the tank in Yendada got a walker's path and attractive lighting and benches. It has now become a recreational area for residents living in surrounding places.
Many of the water tanks located in the newly-merged villages, which were once the irrigation tanks or drinking water sources, have turned into garbage dumps or sewage pools. People shifting away from the community-based tank system to individual water sources, encroachments, silt and other factors have also decreased their number or size. According to the old-timers of the city, several tanks have disappeared over the years. The inflow and outflow of these tanks has also been affected due to increased urbanisation and lack of proper urban planning.
GVMC commissioner M Hari Narayanan said they have spent nearly Rs 2.5 crore on renovation of the water tanks in Yendada, Tunglam, Bakkannapalem, Darapalem and Nagarapalem.
"The locals are very happy with the renovation of water bodies in their vicinity. We will take the project forward in 2018-19 by revamping some more tanks. It will help improve the groundwater levels and will bring other benefits. Estimates are currently being prepared for renovation of some other tanks in this financial year," said Hari Narayanan.
KVK Sudhir, a self-employed resident of Madhurawada, said renovation has totally changed the face of the water tank in Yendada. "This is a very good initiative taken up by GVMC. If all the tanks are renovated in the city, it will go a long a way in protecting these tanks from encroachers and improving ground water levels," said Sudhir.
On the other hand, the Vizag Industrial Water Supply Company is planning to optimise the water storage capacity of several tanks before completion of the Purushothapatnam Lift Irrigation Scheme on Godavari. These tanks include 'Kondakarla Ava' in Munagapaka, Penjeruvu and VK Sagaram tank in Rayavaram and Gopalapatnam Awa in Payakaraopeta.
- Collector loses cool over slow pace ofdevelopment works TNN | Updated: Jan 31, 2018, 15:15 IST Representative Image
Vizianagaram: District collector Vivek Yadav took umbrage over the delay in development works in Salur area.
In a rare display of anger during a review meeting on R&B works, the collector asked officials, "Do I have to fold my hands for you to work? Do you need to be spoonfed?"
The collector during a review meet at the mandal headquarters here on Tuesday expressed his anguish at the slow pace of works despite timely approvals and allotment of funds.
The collector said that while Rs 31.2 crore had been allotted for over 833 developmental works, very little progress has been made as far as execution of works is concerned. The collector said that while road works had been allotted for over 18.3 km, work on only 7.4 km had been completed so far.
He took out his ire on panchayat raj officials of Pachipenta mandal for their lackadaisical attitude towards development works and reprimanded them. He said that unless the works were taken up on a war-footing, he would take strict action against the officials concerned. The collector said that show-cause notices would be issued to engineers of Mentada and Pachipenta mandals and pointed out that approvals for the developmental works were granted on December 14.
Vivek Yadav said: "It is important that we take up developmental works in the interior areas. Unless we work on improving the communication network, the region will remain backward." The collector said he would closely monitor the execution of works.