Visakhapatnam: The Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) elections are scheduled to take place on 10 March, 14 years after locals last exercised their franchise in the municipal elections on 19 February 2007.
At a time when Vizag city is preparing for the municipal polls, civic issues may also steer the preferences of the voters. Though Vizag is tipped to get the "smart city" tag, civic problems such as lack of sufficient drinking water and industrial water supply facility, bad roads, no parking facilities, and air pollution have plagued the city.
Vizag has long been battling with air pollution and coal dust emissions due to the heavy industries located close to the city. It has been a routine for residents of the One Town area, Malkapuram, Gajuwaka, and Kurmannapalem to wake up to a layer of industrial dust in their homes. The Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) has identified Visakhapatnam as a non-attainment city, which means that it does not meet the national ambient air quality standards.
On the other hand, the increasing number of vehicles also points to the need to create more parking spaces, construct flyovers, expand the road network, and make sure designated parking spaces are utilized only for parking.
With rapid urbanization in and around Vizag, the provision of urban transport requires some careful planning. Due to the lack of a proper public transport system, the number of two-wheelers and individual cars has been increasing with the number reaching over 12 lakh.
"Vizag has a population of over 22 lakh and it has been growing by leaps and bounds. The city needs a robust public transport system to tackle the increasing road congestion, pollution, and fatalities in road crashes," said G. Srinivas, an activist in Vizag city.
Even the underground drainage system is limited to some 56 per cent area of the city only. Several instances of UGD overflowing are being reported on a regular basis. The interior roads in several colonies and the stormwater drains also need a major revamp.
"The local body elections would lead to decentralized and grass-root development. People can bring their issues to the notice of their local corporators, which would lead to speedy redressal," said B. Ganga Rao of CPM.
He added, "There are around 17.5 lakh voters in the city. The GVMC polls received a record 1,361 nominations from aspirants of various political parties for the 98 wards of the city."