Acompact city, Tirupati is relatively dense and a key transit point as one has to travel through the city to reach Tirumala - it witnesses 75,000 to 1 lakh pilgrims every day. Amid this hustle-bustle, the role of the municipal corporation extends to civic amenities such as water supply, underground drainage, storm-water drainage, solid waste management, sanitation, street lighting and other duties mandated by the government. V Vinay Chand, Commissioner, Tirupati Municipal Corporation, and Vice Chairman, Tirupati Urban Development Authority (TUDA), says, ¨We have to extend all necessary services to pilgrims such as toilet facilities, maintaining routes, providing good signage and accommodation.¨ He shares more on the development of the city in conversation with SHRIYAL SETHUMADHAVAN.
What efforts have been taken to maintain the city´s heritage?
Tirupati is essentially a temple city. It is the only city in India with a wildlife sanctuary and biosphere reserve within city limits. So, you have the built heritage in the form of temples and monuments as well as natural heritage. In the past nine months, we have started working towards improving parking, overhead electrical wiring, signage, etc. We are using street art - public walls are now painted reflecting our culture and heritage and we are improving sanitation. Also, if Tirupati makes it to the list of the smart city announcement, likely to happen in the first week of August, we will adopt more of a government approach.
We will have an SPV at the city level to conserve natural, cultural and built heritage.
Selected as one of the 100 Indian cities to be developed as smart, what are the current initiatives?
We have already begun efforts in a few areas. In the past year, we have introduced 100 per cent door-to-door collection of segregated wet and dry waste. For transport logistics, we have added compacted high-capacity trucks to transport the garbage without emitting a foul smell. We have also introduced composting process of wet waste. Other initiatives include biometric attendance for sanitation workers to eliminate false employees. We have also added primary and secondary transport infrastructure, such as 400 push carts and a lot of tricycles. We have conducted several IEC (information, education and communication) campaigns to educate people about the need to construct toilets. We have been constructing individual toilets under the Swacch Bharat Mission along with the state government incentives. We have also constructed community toilets and installed almost 12 units (12 x 2) of e-toilets in different locations, which means 24 e-toilets in different locations. We are now placing an order for another 15 e-toilets.
Water supply is an issue in the city....
In the past year, we have added the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system and increased the number of water connections by about 4,000. We have added tap connections in slum areas. Barring three wards, 47 wards have been provided with water on a daily basis. Also, following the Chennai cyclone, which badly hit Tirupati as well, we built storm-water drainage systems; starting from November, we have added almost 40 km of primary drains (outfall drains) and about 100 km of internal drains.
In terms of building smart, what is the primary focus for Tirupati?
The prime focus will be sustainable growth. The city has been witnessing an increase in the number of pilgrims and the population is rising. To deliver a city that meets present and future needs, development has to be sustainable. Solid waste management would mean recycle it, reuse it. For instance, sewerage water can be recycled and used for landscaping needs; C&D waste can be recycled to produce something that can go into the gravel sub-base to construct roads. While we grow in all sectors, we will ensure sustainable growth without damaging our national, cultural and physical heritage.
Any other construction projects coming up in the city?
At present, real estate is on the rise because Tirupati has become one of the most important cities in Andhra Pradesh after bifurcation of the states. It is a peaceful city with good climate and a regional, medical and education hub. We have 14 universities in the city, an international airport, rail and road connectivity, etc. And, with a lot of construction activity happening, there is a housing boom. Also, after the bifurcation, the government sanctioned an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) in Tirupati. It´s a Rs 2,000-crore project, spread across 500 acre and will commence soon. This is a big-bang construction project that will take three years to complete. Also, an Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, spread across 500 acre, has been sanctioned. The airport is getting a new terminal and railways are going in for a major expansion. The highway is witnessing an expansion.
So can the construction sector expect a lot of tenders to be floated in the city?
Some big tenders are going to be announced because we are also planning a major beautification for the city. We recently released a Rs 10-crore tender for airport beautification.
Any specific project being developed under JNNURM?
Under JNNURM, there is a Rs 150-crore housing project under the Basic Urban Services for Poor (BUSP), the Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP). These are the two sub-missions of the erstwhile JNNURM. These houses were left incomplete and the Modi Government has now given time till March 31, 2017, to complete all pending JNNURM projects. Now, work for about Rs 150-160 crore is going on, and we hope to complete it by the set deadline. Under AMRUT, in FY15-16, we have completely focused on water supply and tenders of about Rs 78 crore are ready for release.
Tell us about the corporation´s slum-free city plan.
We are close to achieving this. There are about 69 slums in Tirupati but these are equipped with good amenities. You will not find patched huts, kaccha roads, dirty water flowing onto the streets, etc. These areas are surrounded by constructed roads, concrete drains. Yes, they could be congested with narrow streets. But my definition of a slum-free city would essentially extend to those who still do not have a house of their own.
So, under the current ´Housing for All´ scheme by the government, we have already prepared plans. For the slum channel, the primary focus is a proper house with good toilet facility and drainage system.
What is your dream project for the city?
A dream project would be the completion of the JNNURM housing project. Through this, we are creating a housing stock of 9,200 units, which has been held up for the past six years at various stages. But with the Andhra Pradesh Government´s support, revised technical sanctions have been given, a budget of Rs 40 crore has already been released, and work is happening at a brisk pace. I am confident that by March 2017, I will be handing over these 9,200 houses to eligible slum dwellers. This will give a boost to the construction industry as this project will additionally require proper drainage, sewerage, solid waste, street lighting, etc. So, this is a big dream project for me along with the Smart City Mission.
What is the annual budget plan for the city and how much of this comes from the corporation, state, Centre or any other agency?
This year, we have budgeted close to about Rs 500 crore. Of this, the corporation puts in Rs 120 crore. Additionally, we get grants from the state government to the tune of about Rs 100 crore, which includes the state finance commission.
The rest of the money comes from different central schemes. If the funds anticipated for the smart city plan have to be excluded, the budget would be in the range of about Rs 270 crore or Rs 320 crore.
TIRUPATI MUNICIPAL CORPORATION
Year of establishment: 1886
Selection grade municipality: 1998
Upgraded as municipal corporation: 2007
Population: 374,260 (as per 2011 census).
Ward offices: 50
Total city area: 27.44 sq km
Municipal councillors: 50 (one for each ward)