Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Fumbling Metro (in Telugu)

"The penalty clause will come into effect only if the project is stopped", says the metro MD. Further he says that since the metro project works will go on for five years, the lands will be handed over in a phased manner (Saakshi Telugu daily, 30 July 2011). These utterances of the MD are in contravention of the provisions of the Concession Agreement signed with L&T. Further, he seems to casually say that the government will overcome the resistance to land acquisition in Sultan Bazaar area. Read the news item below in two parts:

Friday, July 29, 2011

Metro - Boon or Bane?

Metro conundrum By Kingshuk Nag (The Times of India, Hyderabad, 29 July 2011)

Will Hyderabad’s proposed metro be a boon or a bane? Opinion is divided on this issue. Though when the project was first conceived most people were enthusiastic and saw in the metro rail a symbol of development that Hyderabad was aspiring for, these days there are a lot who are apprehensive. “How many times will I have to give up land? First they took some land away from me for road expansion. Now they will want land for metro rail. Is this fair?” asked a businessman with an outlet on SP Road. “As it is, the traffic is bad on Begumpet road. What will happen when the metro works begins? How long will I take to reach office from home and vice versa” asks an executive who lives in Habsiguda and works in Banjara Hills. “The entire commercial area of Ameerpet will be destroyed apart from Sultan Bazar. The whole city will be disfigured. What we will have after metro rail will be Hyderabad in some other form,” says a heritage activist. These are all valid points. 

But equally troubled are the prime contractors of the project, the well known Larsen & Toubro. Though the financial closure of the project happened in early March and the company deposited a performance guarantee of Rs 360 crore, the land required for the project is not being made available to them. Naturally, the government is unable to persuade various agencies to part with land. L & T is worried because with each passing day its costs are escalating. The company has borrowed large sums from the market and will borrow more. The interest burden on the borrowed portion is increasing and with the rates hardening, future borrowings will be more costly. As per the concession agreement with L & T, the government has to pay a hefty penalty for every day’s delay in handing over the 269 acres of land at various places that it has to the company. A huge amount is already due to L & T on this account. But L & T knows that the state’s exchequer is empty and it is not a position to pay up. 
Kiran Kumar Reddy garu, when asked on this question, is very sensitive. “All decisions have been taken, we are going ahead,” he says a trifle aggressively. The aggression may be to cover up the realization that he has been put in a spot by predecessor K Rosaiah. With the Satyam scam and collapse of Maytas, the metro rail project went phut. It also became clear that Ramalinga Raju had conceived the metro rail as a real estate project than an urban transportation venture. This was a golden opportunity for Rosaiah. He could have realigned the routes of the project to take into account concerns now being raised. But instead of having a relook he blindly offered the same Maytas metro rail project to L & T (of course the financials changed). He obviously allowed himself to be persuaded by the same forces who were behind Raju. The result of the Rosaiah inaction is the mess we see. And this is just the beginning, what with the project now clearly taking a Telangana vs anti Telangana turn.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Letter to Editor in Vaartha Telugu Daily by C. Ramachandraiah

This letter by me published in Vaartha Telugu Daily today (23 July 2011) condemns the vilification of the anti-metro campaigners by S. Jeevananda Reddy in two articles on 21-22 July. It may be recalled that a pro-metro meeting organised by one dubious NGO with the metro MD as the main speaker was disrupted by the protesting traders of Sultan Bazaar and TRS party cadres.


Monday, July 18, 2011

Widening of Hi-Tec City-Madhapur road for Metro Rail

Some important / interesting items in the story published in today's ToI about the widening of HiTec City - Madhapur road widening for Metro Rail Project:
  • This road has been very recently developed. In spite of the very recent development, there has not been any planning for contingencies / future growth etc.
  • In the master plan prepared by the cyberabad development area it was proposed as 120 feet. That meeans the land was available with the Govt. to make it 120 feet or needed to be acquired to make it 120 feet. Had that acquisition happened at that time, the expensess would have been less.
Now, who is going to pay for the widening ? Is it going to be GHMC who will compensate the property owners or the HMR ?
This clearly shows the utter lack of planning in city development.

New area to be widened for metro rail

(Hundreds of properties to be demolished even in the newly built area like Madhapur. What kind of planning is this? A proper cost benefit analysis has never been done for this project. No wonder the authorities don't want to share the documents even under RTI. What else is this if not a scam?)
Hi-Tec City-Madhapur road to be widened for metro rail project  Times of India, Jul 18, 2011.
It is not just decades-old roads that are being widened for the metro rail project, a road developed in the late nineties will also be widened for the over Rs 12,000-crore project. The Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has decided to widen the Madhapur main road (Kavuri Hills to Hi-Tec City) to 120 feet from the existing 80 feet...While some properties are likely to get partially affected, some will be bulldozed completely for road expansion. Read the full news item at -

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Coverage in Namasthe Telangaana (Telugu) of Protest at Pro-metro meet

         We Don't Want this Metro (17 July 2011)

Protest at the Pro-Metro meet: English Press Coverage-17July2011

TRS activists and oustees disrupt meet on metro rail 

Meeting on benefits of Metro marred by protests
The New Indian Express
HYDERABAD: A discussion on role of the Metro rail in development of city on Saturday was marred by disruptions by protesting activists of the TRS and traders of Sultan Bazar. The Hyderabad Metro Rail managing director NVS Reddy, who was giving a presentation on advantages of the Metro project at the Sundaraiah Vignana Kendram organised by Jana Chaitanya Vedika, was forced to leave the venue by the agitators. Trouble began when TRS workers led by Greater Hyderabad TRS Convener K Srinivas Yadav and joint convener A Venkatesh and Sultan Bazar traders stormed into the hall and raised vociferous slogans, demanding change in alignment of corridor-II (Jubilee Bus Station to Falaknuma). They also demanded that wherever the Metro is passing through heritage structures, it should be laid underground.

NVS Reddy told agitators they would explain in detail about the project and that it is being implemented for development of the city. But TRS workers and traders did not heed to pleas and resorted to throwing tables and chairs, leading to the meeting ended abruptly. Meanwhile, C Ramachandraiah, convener, Citizens for Better Public Transportation in Hyderabad condemned Laxman Reddy of JCV for organising the meeting. “It is unfortunate to see that JCV which claims to fight against corruption is promoting a scam-tainted project,” he added.

TRS disrupts meeting on Metro Rail

The Hindu

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Press Release on the Pro-metro meeting

Citizens for a Better Public Transport in Hyderabad
(A coalition of civil society organizations and individuals)
------------------------------------------------------------------------------                                                                                                                 16 July 2011.
Press Release

On Civil Society’s Pro-metro meeting today

Leading anti-corruption movement on one side and promoting a scam-tainted project on the other?  We condemn the initiative of Laxman Reddy of Jana Chaitanya Vedika (JCV) for organizing a pro-metro meeting with NVS Reddy, metro MD, as the main speaker. We also condemn Srinivas Reddy of APSA and Dr. Rao Chelikani for being speakers in such a meeting on Saturday (16 July).

We have no problem with individuals having their opinions on the metro project, but these three persons are leading members in the Citizen Forum Against Corruption in AP (headed by Justice A. Lakshma Rao, former chief justice of Allahabad High Court). It is their responsibility to demand an open debate and transparency on the metro project so that all the doubts are cleared to the public. Even today this project is pushed without sharing its documents and without a public debate. Lack of transparency will result in a scam. Thousands of traders, heritage activists and TRS party have protested on several dimensions of this project.

Instead of demanding or oganising an open debate on this, they wanted to do a big favour to the scam-tainted project. It is because of such meetings that the civil society gets a bad name in the eyes of the public while talking against corruption. They must resign immediately from the Forum Against Corruption.

We would like to congratulate the Traders-JAC, Sultan Bazaar Parirakshana Samithi, and TRS activists for protesting at the meeting venue. (The meeting seems to have ended abruptly with the protesters unwilling to allow the MD to continue speaking.) The metro officials should take this as a lesson and make all documents public and hold public debate, and not depend on dubious organizations to gain legitimacy. More they do this, more discredited the project becomes.

Prof. C. Ramachandraiah, Convenor, Citizens for Better Public Transportation in Hyderabad. Mobile: 94400 35405
Shri S. Jeevan Kumar, State President, Human Rights Forum, Andhra Pradesh.

Pro-metro meeting ends abruptly - Traders and TRS protest

Great news. The meeting in favour of the scam-tainted metro project by  Laxman Reddy of Jana Chaitanya Vedika with NVS Reddy, metro MD, as the main speaker at SVKendram today (16 July) was interrupted and scuttled by the Traders-JAC, Sultan Bazaar Parirakshana Samithi, and TRS activits. The meeting abruptly ended. We congratulate all those who participated in this effort to obstruct that scandalous meeting.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Anti-corruption activists supporting a scam!

Leading anti-corruption movement on one side and promoting a scam-tainted project on the other. What do you infer from it? Mr. Laxman Reddy of Jana Chaitanya Vedika (JCV) is a leading member in the Citizen Forum Against Corruption (headed by Justice A.Lakshman Rao). Srinivas Reddy of APSA and Dr. Rao Chelikani are also active in it. Hyderabad metro is pushed without sharing its documents and without a public debate.

Lack of transparency will result in a scam. Instead of demanding an open debate on it, the JCV and the two other persons involved in the anti-corruption movement want to do a big favour to the scam-tainted metro project.

They are holding a pro-metro debate in SVKendram on Saturday (16 July) with NVS Reddy, metro MD, as the main speaker, and Jeevananda Reddy, Vijaya Babu (editor of Andhra Prabha) and a couple of retired engineers as other speakers. These speakers have nothing to do with public transportation either in terms of understanding the issue or in terms of involving in any activism for the same. And on Sunday (17 July) they are holding the state convention of the Forum Against Corruption in Hyderabad. No wonder, the civil society's credibility is not high in the public. That is the tragedy of our times.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sultan Bazaar - Visitors demand its protection

The Telugu daily, Andhra Jyothy (10 July 2011) gathered opinions of 100 visitors in Sultan Bazaar on the ongoing controversy over the metro rail route. 80% of them said that this Bazaar should be protected. The govt is obviously not bothered to listen! The news clipping is given below:

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mr. Sreedharan recommended removal of RTC buses to favour the metro

-          Remove RTC buses: In a retrograde step, the DPR-2006 for Hyderabad metro, prepared by the DMRC headed by Shri E. Sreedharan, recommends that for the pollution levels in the city to decline with the advent of the metro, the “system should be popularized/forced on the commuters”. This is should “be coupled with the reorganization of the service sectors of the public transportation (APSRTC) by eliminating the long distance services which they are operating presently” (emphasis mine). (The Competing Facility clause in the Concession Agreement with L&T prohibits the state govt from developing any facility that would adversely affect the metro. this clause would sound a death knell to RTC). It may be noted that a study by the Hazards Centre in 2006 found that 165 buses were removed along the metro rail routes in Delhi because they were competing with the metro with low fares). -  CR

Hyderabad Metro - DPR’s (2003) revelations (continued from yesterday)

-          For Line-2, the govt seems to have told the DMRC that the Purani Haveli Road in the old city is under road widening for Charminar pedestrianisation project. (In fact, this road has nothing to do with that. The local strongman, MIM party, has forced the state govt to change the route to avoid this road. The HMR authorities announced the change initially but later retracted after the agitation in Sultan Bazaar demanding a change of the route (in the same Line-2).
-          Threat to Gun Park: The Assembly metro station to be located in the traffic island between the Assembly building and All India Radio building (there is no other traffic island here other than the Gun Park) (Located near Public Gardens, Gun Park is a martyr's memorial built for the 369 students who died in the firing in the 1969 agitation for separate statehood of Telangana. The monument was named as Gun Park, because of government's using of guns against an agitation. The Park over the years has become symbolic to the Telangana agitation (Source: 12 July 2011).
-           Madhura Nagar station (DPR-2006) is to be located in a women’s welfare institute popularly known as State Home in about 2.5 acres of area by deviating from the road. That would have totally ruined the State Home. After this the corridor would have run through several residential apartments. (The authorities seem to have made it go along the road now).

Monday, July 11, 2011

Hyderabad metro should be underground in several parts- says the DPR

Namaste Telangana, a Telugu daily formed for the cause of a separate T state, has written a series of 16 stories with the last one appearing today (11 July). For us fighting against the elevated metro in the last few years, several of the contents were familiar. What surprised us is the revelations based on DPRs (detailed project reports) which are not shared by the authorities even under RTI (my petition is pending in the State Info Comn). A few of those are given below –
-          - The DPR-2003 (prepared by DMRC of Delhi Metro, prime consultant to Hyd metro) talks of the taking most of the Line-2 underground. This is the Line in which Sultan Bazaar traders have been fighting against demolitions. But the state govt (the headed by Mr. Naidu) preferred elevated and told the DMRC that most of the roads will be widened.
-         -  It is amusing to find the name of a popular road (Sardar Patel Road) and a never-heard of road (Krishna Prasad Road) appearing in the old city on Line-2. (The ‘consultants’ who are hardly familiar with the city would have prepared these reports).
-         - The Line-3 between Secunderabad and Hitec City was not feasible as elevated corridor from engineering point of view due to steep gradients and four flyovers enroute (in parallel). It was recommended to be partly underground and partly elevated.
-          - Some pillars in Line-3 will have to go upto a height of about 100 ft.
-         -  The metro project’s managing director (MD) should be a technocrat of impeccable integrity (what we have is a railway accounts officer, whose integrity is questionable, and who got appointed in the same post till he retires!).
More later...

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Traders vow to fight to save Sultan Bazaar - Reject HMR offer

Metro corridor: traders sound note of warning
The Hindu, 9 July 2011

The Traders Joint Action Committee and Sultan Bazar Parirakshan Samiti have rejected the announcement to build a new commercial complex at Putlibowli to accommodate businessmen affected by the elevated metro rail's second corridor passing through the area.
In a press statement on Friday, JAC chairman Govind Rathi and president V. Kishan Yadav warned that unless the corridor route (JBS-Falaknuma) is re-routed as demanded, they would ‘gherao' the metro rail authorities. Stating that there was a lot of opposition to the metro line by various sections of the society and political parties, they wondered why the government was bent on crushing shopkeepers of Sultan Bazar and Badichowdi.
Sultan Bazar was a 200-year-old heritage totally pedestrian market with temples and a masjid, they claimed and pointed out that the livelihood of shopkeepers and property owners was at stake because of the project. They urged the city Ministers -- Mukesh Goud and D. Nagender -- to hold a dialogue with the affected shopkeepers and also people managing the religious shrines.
The JAC also faulted the metro line authorities, particularly Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited (HMR) MD N.V.S. Reddy for lacking knowledge about Sultan Bazar and going ahead with the project only to please the government and L&T. For the full news item, click here. 
HMRL move to rehabilitate displaced traders condemned
Times of India | Jul 9, 2011.Sultan Bazaar traders have condemned the Hyderabad Metro Rail Limited's (HMRL) move to set up a commercial complex at Putlibowli to rehabilitate the displaced traders. The traders have demanded that local MLA, Mukesh Goud, hold a public dialogue with the affected shopkeepers and show some regard for the 200-year-old heritage market. For the full news item, click here.
Traders reject HMR packageJuly 9, 2011, Deccan Chronicle, Hyderabad
"shopping malls cannot be an alternative to pedestrian markets like Sultan Bazaar which cater to the needs of people from lower income groups". Click here for the full news item.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Sultan Bazaar has to be wiped out?

Traders in Sultan Bazaar area observed bandh three times. several political parties demanded that this heritage bazaar should not be razed to ground. it's also linked to the livelihoods of lakhs of people. but the govt seems to be bent upon demolition that. Read the full news item in the Times of India today (8July)-

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

BRTS for Hyderabad: Pre-feasibility Study done in 2005 but Ignored to Favour the Metro Rail

Is the BRTS (Bus Rapid Transit System) not suitable for Hyderabad? Pro-metro rail lobbies will say so. Ever since the metro rail project came to the centre-stage, the proposals for BRTS, strengthening MMTS (local trains) phase-I and taking up of MMTS phase-II have been deliberately neglected. These could have been completed in short time and at low cost to provide an efficient public transport system before thinking of the metro which is a highly capital intensive project.
BRT in Delhi 

BRT in Ahmedabad (Bus lane as seen from behind the bus)
The Institute for Transportation and Development Policy, New York has conducted a Pre-Feasibility Study for Bus Rapid Transit System in Hyderabad in 2005. BRTS was found eminently suitable for the city. The ITDP is now implementing the BRTS in Ahmedabad. You can download the report (86 pages) from the link-

ITDP's BRTS - Hyderabad's Loss, Ahmedabad's Gain

This could have been Hyderabad's for the taking but this has now been implemented with aplomb in Ahmedabad!

Why did we lose out on such a environmentally friendly, cyclist friendly and pedestrian friendly project which caters to a city's culture, history and geography, keeping in mind futuristic urban planning, keeping in mind the majority of citizens who are poor or middle class unable to afford motorized vehicles, a project which costs peanuts compared to the much touted 'largest' PPP (public private partnership) the Hyderabad Metro Rail ?

The answers to the above incredulous questions are not simple but clues lie in the words 'politics, corruption, land-grab'.

Answers also lie in lack of foresight, lack of love for one's city on the part of those responsible for making such decisions. Development is a word that is thrown at you, Employment is another. No matter if in the process a throbbing, lively, perfectly functioning, clean and beautiful city will be converted into a graveyard of construction, more traffic jams, pollution, unaesthetic, unappealing and an eyesore for the benefit of a chosen few WITH NO LONG TERM BENEFIT vis-a-vis a BRTS which is, to reiterate, CHEAPER, FASTER, EASIER, HEALTHIER......

‎"Hyderabad is as tough place. We spent year there, came
close starting a BRT program.The guy who was BRT champion went on to become metro MD(NVS Reddy). Commissioner and Principal Secretary moved out . The Principal Secretary (urban) of AP became Principal
Secretary (urban) of Gujarat and actively supported the BRT program in
Ahmedabad!" from senior management in ITDP

"I was working for ITDP in 2003, we had convinced Hyderabad to build a BRT system. A few months later, they dropped the idea of BRT, political reasons, and decided to go with the Metro project, ITDP decided to work with Ahmedabad they have today a world-class BRT" another well-wisher from Colombia

What we need is to introspect, if there is an alternative proposed, if people are opposing, if urban planners, professors, heritage activists are appalled, can we do a better job, can we improve efficiency, make it cost-effective, resolve harmoniously, cater to some reasonable demands?

Metro is good, we are not anti-Metro per se but can we please have the Lines where they are most needed? Where the new businesses are, where the new educational institutions are not in the centre of the city, which is already, readily, happily, accessible to those who choose to go there (definitely not those who spout the Metro Mantra, they dare not leave their precious 'Hills'), we need connectivity in the OUTSKIRTS, is that so hard to understand that Hyderabad is NOT DELHI? We do NOT have a CBD (Centre Business District) a la Connaught Place, so can you please not plonk the same silly plan on us, we THE PEOPLE, thank you. Oh, and by the way, how come NO ONE has seen those plans and you run scared of RTI applications (Right to Information), what are you HIDING??

It is as simple as that. Else, who is this project for if not for the people?

Let us not get into right now the fact that Hyderabad has a wonderful local light train ALREADY IN PLACE called the MMTS, which needs a few extra tracks, more trains, good connectivity and it is good to give any Metro a tough chase! Despite approval of its second phase now this wonderful resource lies wasted.

To encounter the eerie silence on this legitimate protest from major newspapers like The Hindu, from the High Command, from the High Court, one would wonder what is the nexus that lies therein?

Are we a nation governed by robots since only humans have the capacity to conscientiously THINK?

Monday, July 4, 2011

Write-up in Telugu. Attitude of the main political parties towards Hyderabad metro rail. Cong, TDP,BJP, YSR Party, LSP, MIM - more or less the same. Some say metro is needed but there should not be any damage to historic areas but won't say how. Some change is seen in CPI(M). CPI is still not clear. Most leaders who want metro have no understanding of city's public transport. They are least bothered about the damage to the city and its heritage. The issue is hotting up after TRS took up the issue. Read today's story in నమస్తే తెలంగాణా దిన పత్రిక in the link -

The earlier article by Prof. C. Ramachandraiah in Telugu in ఆంధ్ర జ్యోతి (10 మార్చి2011) on "Metro Rail & Political Parties" may be accessed here- 

Friday, July 1, 2011

Sultan Bazaar Bandh on 1st July

The bandh in Sultan Bazaar was a huge success. One can find the traders more determined to fight it out. With the government showing a stubborn attitude to take up the metro project, and claim that there is nothing to clarify, the traders got support from several opposition parties. This is the third bandh in less than six months against the metro rail corridor-2.

 On a normal day
 Public meeting (above) and bandh (below) on 1st July 2011

No need to clarify on metro - AP CM

When the demand is growing for an open discussion on the metro rail project, The AP chief minister says there is no need to clarify. To a question by reporter (as I watched on a tv channel), the AP chief minister says "there is no need to clarify anything, all these were decided earlier, the agreement was signed during Rosaiah's time". He feels there is no need to even discuss this in an all-party meeting. What can you say? In a way, it is good for the movement building up against this project!

Sultan Bazaar bandh today (1 July). A heritage bazaar fighting back the monstrous elevated metro rail in Hyderabad. For a third time in less than 6 months, Sultan Bazaar is going to organise a bandh on 1 July against the remarks of the two city-based ministers that the metro will be built at any cost. You will find our write-up in the following link written after the first bandh in January 2011.