It is a matter of pride for every Hyderabadi that the City of Pearls has been ranked the fifth most dynamic city in the world by global financial services firm JLL’s City Momentum Index (CMI). It is the second Indian city, after Bengaluru, to figure in the global top five. While earning a place in the elite global club against stiff competition is a creditable achievement, it is not the time to rest on laurels. There should be no room for complacency or slackening of efforts as far as the mission to develop Hyderabad as a truly global city and a favoured international investment destination is concerned. The city’s infrastructure, including roads, drainage system, transport, connectivity and civic amenities, must measure up to global standards on a sustainable basis. Even the best of plans can come to nought if there is lack of coordination among various government agencies. This is best illustrated by the city roads, which appear to be in a perennial state of repair instead of upgradation. A plethora of agencies working at cross purposes often hampers speedy development. It is the everyday experience of commuters that just when a new stretch of road is laid, another government agency descends on the scene and starts digging afresh.
While the government recently initiated in right earnest the Rs 25,000-crore comprehensive action plan to improve the city’s infrastructure, covering roads, drainage and other civic amenities, its execution should not be allowed to be hindered by the legacy issues of the past. There is a need to focus on adopting modern technologies and materials to upgrade roads to world-class standards through coordinated and mission-mode approach instead of getting bogged down by the old methods of piecemeal approach and leniency towards poor construction quality. The torrential rains in September last year played havoc with the city roads, exposing chinks in the storm water drainage system. It was attributed to illegal constructions over the drains. A report of the Kirloskar Committee, set up after the floods of 2000, identified 13,500 illegal constructions in the city. The number has now crossed 28,000. A zero-tolerance policy towards such constructions is needed to overhaul the infrastructure. While road repair works have been undertaken without any delay, a whopping Rs 11,000 crore is required to revamp the existing sewerage system. New techniques such as laying paver blocks, plastic roads and white top roads are being tried out now. The GHMC has a major task on hand as only 15 per cent of the city’s roads have storm water drains. There is a need to double the number of manholes from the present 200,000, an exercise that will cost over Rs 1,200 crore.