The army has been trying to block access of the road to civilians, and residents have been hitting back with protests, petitions and rallies.

Army to shut arterial road in Secunderabad but work on alternative roads yet to beginFile photo
news News Sunday, May 14, 2017 - 15:48

The fate of more than 1 lakh commuters in Secunderabad's cantonment area is left hanging yet again, as the Local Military Authority (LMA) has stated that it will close Gough Road from June 1 this year.

The Gough Road is an arterial route, that connects various parts of Secunderabad like RK Puram, Neredmet, Defence Colony and Sainikpuri with parts of Hyderabad.

“It is for the information of all concerned that as per the order of the High Court of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, the AOC roads, of which Gough road is a part, are internal military roads and its control rests with the LMA. The administration, training and security of AOC Centre are being adversely affected due to this road being used as a thoroughfare since long. Accordingly, Army has carried out the implementation of traffic restrictions on some roads in a phased manner so that there is least inconvenience to the public," a statement by the LMA said.

However, emergency vehicles like ambulances, fire brigades and even school buses will be allowed to use the road.

History

This statement by the LMA come after a long history of the Army, trying to block access of the road to civilians, and residents hitting back with protests, petitions and rallies.

The issue first started in February 2014, but has extended its deadlines several times over the past three years, after representations were made to the Centre.

The LMA has been citing a High Court order that ruled that the army had the right to close the roads.

After several meeting between MLAs, MPs and the intervention of the Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and then Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, it was decided that the road would be open for civilians, except between 10pm and 6am.

The protesters say that the alternate road via Trimulgherry that presently exists, is narrow, and can't take the load of traffic during rush hours.

In fact, the road has been witnessing traffic jams even at midnight, since the LMA cordoned off the Gough Road in the night.

In February this year, over 1,500 Secunderabad residents took out a candlelight march from A S Rao Nagar grounds to Neredmet, to protest against the closure of the roads.

Pointing out that the LMA had already closed 10 roads near Bolarum and Yapral, the protestors said that this had turned an 800-metre ride into an 8 km ride for several residents.

Read: After two-year battle, RTI reveals that six roads closed by Army come under Secunderabad board

The residents had also conducted signature campaigns to President Pranab Mukherjee, who stays at Rasthrapathi Nilayam during his winter sojourn, which is barely a few kilometres away from the blocked roads.

Alternate Roads

The LMA and the state government have been promising to build alternate roads since December 2014, when KCR wrote to the then Defence Minister.

However, two and a half years after the decision, work on the alternate roads is yet to start.

According to reports, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has estimated that it would require 34 acres of land, and Rs 200 crore for developing these alternate roads. This amount would include the payment of compensation for land acquisition.

However, it is still busy identifying and land and preparing a detailed project report (DPR).

“While land negotiation is on between the State and the Central government, the GHMC is preparing project reports for two alternative roads. These reports are expected to be completed soon,” a state government official told The Hindu.

While the plan is to construct one road from the RK Puram Flyover to the Safilguda railway crossing, another road will extend from Safilguda to Mahindra Hills.

In its latest state, the LMA also said, "It is also clarified that construction of an alternative road is being actively pursued by the army with GHMC. The willingness on the part of the defence authorities to objectively examine and render assistance as required in developing alternative roads along the periphery of AOC Centre, towards Mahendra Hill, has also been communicated to the concerned authorities."

With the LMA adamant on shutting the road, many citizens have been planning to protest and take to the streets.

However, some feel that another extension would be granted.

"The permission needs to come from the LMA's head office under the Defence Ministry in Delhi. The previous time also they did the same thing. When our representatives went to meet Defence Minister Arun Jaitley earlier, he promised that status quo would be maintained on the issue," says B T Srinivasan, General Secretary of the United Federation of Residents' Welfare Associations.

 

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