Residents on the slopes of the hills and hillocks in Vizag city are currently threatened by construction activity by encroachers. The rising number of encroachment on the hills and unchecked construction activity are a threat to people's life and limbs as also to their properties. A landslide at Sanjevayya nagar area in the city on Sunday claimed four lives. The incident, residents say, has revealed there is no effective disaster management plan and that the officials have failed to control illegal encroachments.
Thousands of migrants as well as locals have set up homes on the hills and hillocks in Vizag city. They illegally occupy the area over the past few decades with fear of the authorities. Hills in Pendurthi, Gajuwaka, Malkapuram, Hanumanthwaka, Thatichetlapalem, Simhachalam and some other areas have become residential areas. Local bodies and revenue officials have so far failed to ascertain the number and extent of encroachments made so far or to pinpoint vulnerable areas.
They have no plan for mitigating any threat from landslide, according to an activist, I.V. Prasad, who said that despite it being a complex issue, officials and political leaders need to address these matters.
Sources from the Revenue department and Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) point out that 13 of the 25 green hills in the city have been illegally occupied, turning them into concrete jungles. This also poses a threat to wildlife and environment while the encroachers remain under threat of deadly landslips. There is no co-ordination among various departments to deal with the issue.
District Fire Officer, Vizag, J. Mohan Rao, said firemen faced a tough time in reaching out to victims of fire mishaps, landslips or wall collapse incidents on the hills.
Experts in Geology, like professors, point out that the digging of the foothills would render the hills weak and vulnerable to landslides. The best solution to check environmental damage would be to completely halt all illegal construction activities on the hillocks. The GVMC, VUDA and few other departments may have come up with suitable housing projects for low-income groups, they suggested.
Left parties seek Rs 20 lakh ex-gratia
HRD minister Ganta Srinivasa Rao and GVMC commissioner Pravin Kumar said they would appoint a committee to identify vulnerable spots apart from drawing up a plan to the people who stay on the hillsides.
The minister assured that the government would release some compensation for the victims' families. Leaders of the Left parties demanded `20 lakh compensation for the family members of each of the dead.
The deceased in the mishap were identified as D. Suryanarayana, 65, D. Adhilakshmi, 55, D. Sriram, 22, and D. Adhinarayana, 7. Sriram whose legs were crushed in the incident, died while undergoing treatment at KG Hospital in Vizag city, the others were crushed to death. The injured in the landslide mishap were identified as Appalasuri, Mariamma and Balaji.