Slum survey created panic among people, allege Opposition parties

‘GVMC should hold a discussion about the programme in the council meet’

The slum development survey conducted by the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) seems to have not gone down well with the Opposition political parties, who express concern that the slum dwellers may be evicted under the guise of development and providing housing. The Telugu Desam Party (TDP) opposed the idea and demanded that the GVMC conduct a discussion about the programme in the council meet first. The CPI(M) alleged that the survey has created panic among people and also questioned what was the necessity to organise the survey within a short period.

CPI(M) leader and Corporator of Ward No. 78, B. Ganga Rao, said that the GVMC officials should have enquired about the condition of roads, drainages, retaining walls, drinking water facility, street lightning, community halls, anganwadi centres and community toilets in the survey. But instead they enquired about people who stay in the localities and collected various documents including Aadhaar card, gas connections, bank account details and property tax payment copies. This has led to panic among people, Mr. Ganga Rao said. He also questioned why did the GVMC officials did not bring the topic of slum development survey in the recently held council meet and why was the programme held all of a sudden.

Former Union Secretary E.A.S. Sarma said that the construction activity would need workers who migrate from the adjacent rural areas to the city in search of livelihoods. Once engaged in such work, they rarely go back. As the Master Plans fail to capture this reality and fail to plan for settling them, the workers have settled close to the places where they earn their livelihoods, without access to the basic amenities, he said. “Any slum rehabilitation plan that does not recognise this is bound to create more problems. Slum rehabilitation should necessarily be based on in-situ rehabilitation, unless the local bodies can create livelihoods for them at locations where they are rehabilitated. Past experience shows that the local bodies could not create such livelihood opportunities for displaced slum-dwellers,” he added.

Association for Urban and Tribal Development (AUTD) Secretary Pragada Vasu said that the GVMC did not consult any locals or stakeholders and this has made the slum dwellers apprehensive about the outcome of the survey.

Moreover, GVMC officials have stated that there are 793 slums in the city. But on physical verification we realised that there are hardly 20 to 25 slums. From where did this 793 figure crop up. It appears that even fishermen colonies and a few residential areas in Adarsh Nagar, have been included under the slums, he said.

According to him, the GVMC should focus on in-situ development of slums in a phased manner, but not evicting and rehabilitating them at peri-urban areas. Even in the past a number of slum colonies were shifted to peri-urban areas in the city. Even now, those colonies do not have basic amenities and are facing livelihood problem.

‘No need to panic’

Responding over the issue, GVMC Commissioner G. Srijana said that there is no need to panic as the civic body has checked the residential proofs to ensure whether the people are really living in the locality, as there are possibilities of people enrolling their names in the slums even if they do not reside there. She said that the decision to denotify a slum or continue it as a slum will be decided only after checking the present development in the slum and the livelihood standards of the people residing over there.

“Already the GVMC has prepared a report on the condition of roads, drainage, lighting, drinking water facility and other amenities in the slums. The report is ready with engineers and Sachivalayam staff,” she said.

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