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QQSUDA, a non entity for decades: Syed Amin Jafri డిసెంబర్ 11, 2011

Posted by M Bharath Bhushan in CharMinar, GHMC, heritage, Hyderabad, Identity, Muslim, politics.
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Times of India, December 11, 2011
MINORITY REPORT
A non-entity for decades
Syed Amin Jafri

The Quli Qutub Shah Urban Development Authority (QQSUDA) just exists for namesake, tucked away in the backyard of the crumbling old MCH building complex at Darulshifa. It is gasping for funds even as it is crippled by lack of powers and acute shortage of staff.

Way back in August 1981, the then chief minister T Anjaiah announced the formation of QQSUDA as “an Eid gift to the people of Old City.” It was constituted as a development agency for the overall development of the Old City. To make it a high-profile body, the chief minister is the Chairman and the Municipal Administration and Urban Development minister is the vice chairman of QQSUDA. The managing committee is in charge of formulating policy matters and reviewing its performance. Hardly any meetings of QQSUDA board were held by successive chief ministers in the last three decades.

QQSUDA’s mission is to plan and promote the development of Old City through creation of infrastructure such as sewerage, storm water drains, bore wells, internal roads, CC roads, community halls, compound walls for graveyards, recreational and market facilities, hospital and school buildings, housing and other works. QQSUDA’s jurisdiction extends over 64.5 sq kms spread over 11 assembly constituencies—Charminar, Bahadurpura, Yakutpura, Chandrayangutta, Malakpet, Goshamahal, Karwan, Nampally, Jubilee Hills and parts of Maheshwaram and L B Nagar.

Right from its birth, QQSUDA has been handicapped, with meager financial allocations, inadequate staff and truncated powers. It is not an urban authority with exclusive jurisdiction under the provisions of AP Urban Areas (Development) Act, 1975. It is also not a statutory civic infrastructure body like Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply & Sewerage Board. Most of its 30 officers are drawn from other departments and the annual budgetary grant-in-aid of Rs 4 to 5 crore is barely enough to pay the salaries of its 125 employees let alone maintenance of its office.

QQSUDA’s brief moment of glory came in 1985 when Telugu Desam supremo and then chief minister N T Rama Rao sought to give fillip to the development of Old City through a range of 17 civic amenities. He got QQSUDA registered as a society and posted a senior IAS officer J P Murthy as administrator and K V Ramanachary as secretary. A planning expert A L Taha was appointed as chief planning officer of QQSUDA. NTR also commissioned a study on the Old City through Regional Centre for Environmental and Urban Studies, Osmania University.

Prof M A Muttalib supervised the study and submitted a three-volume report to the Government. Based on the study’s recommendations, QQSUDA prepared a project report for urban renewal with an estimated outlay of Rs 270 crore. NTR wanted to pose the Old City project to World Bank for assistance. The project was to be implemented in a five-year timeframe. However, NTR’s enthusiasm hit the bureaucratic road-block.

When the Old City renewal project came up in the cabinet meeting, a top bureaucrat heading the finance department stoutly opposed it on the ground that the project was “meaningless” since the ruling party would not get any political dividends in the Old City. The project report was sent to the central government without the cabinet resolution. The Centre refused to pose it to the World Bank in the absence of the state government’s willingness to stand guarantee for the loan.

Owing to lack of adequate budgetary support, the QQSUDA has been forced to execute only “deposit works” entrusted to it by other agencies like Hyderabad District Collectorate, through funds, tapped under MP Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS) and Assembly Constituency Development Programme (ACDP), from Hyderabad MP and other MLAs from the Old City. Sometimes, the successive chief ministers came up with additional grants for QQSUDA on persistent lobbying by the elected representatives.

When the Rs 2,025 crore Old City package was announced by then CM Dr Y S Rajasekhar Reddy in 2006, works costing Rs 27 crore (just one percent of the total outlay) were allotted to QQSUDA. Though QQSUDA executed deposit works amounting to Rs 129 crore during 2004-09, no fresh works were taken up from 2006-09 as the available funds were utilized only to clear pending bills of contractors. An additional grant of Rs 12.5 crore was given in 2009-10. During first round of Rachabanda in the Old City in February 2011, chief minister N Kiran Kumar Reddy promised to sanction Rs 20 crore for QQSUDA. The budgetary allocation for QQSUDA is, however, pegged at Rs 19 crore in the current year’s budget.

After completing 30 years of its uneventful existence, QQSUDA has nothing to cheer about. The question asked by an urban planner and retired bureaucrat years ago still seems relevant: Kyon, kyon saab, yeh development authority? (Why sir, this development authority?)

(The writer is a member of AP Legislative Council and journalist)

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