Civic issues
During the rains, pedestrians have to wade through sewage and muck.
All images: Nitin B

The stench is strong in the air near the HITEC city MMTS station in Hyderabad, as a drain flows under a tiny road, that several vehicles try to squeeze into. 

The station is situated close to several software companies, and is used by several hundred techies in the city every day. The station is well maintained, clean and has several amenities.

Just a few metres away, the road underneath the elevated station is a picture of stark contrast. 

Sewage flows on the road, as several vehicles try to fit into a tiny underpass that can only fit one vehicle at a time. 

"Imagine getting frustrated with traffic within 100 metres of starting your journey. We start driving and immediately get stuck with sewage flowing below our vehicle. All this, to get from one side of a railway station to another side," says Ram Chandra, an auto driver who ferries people from the station. 

"This used to be a shortcut that only some people knew about, but as the traffic on the HITEC city flyover has grown rapidly, many people now use this road. Since the road is too narrow, we get stuck even in hour-long traffic jams sometimes," another commuter points out.  

The tiny road is an important link, as it connects Kukatpally and HITEC city, with many commuters using the IDL Access road. 

Despite this, heavy rains can make the drain overflow on the road. Walking through the underpass is especially a nightmare for pedestrians as they have to wade through sewage and muck. 

For example, during the rains last year, the underpass remained submerged for almost three weeks in October.  

While officials of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) have recently built a culvert to mitigate the issue, there is only a thin wall that holds the water together. Even a slight downpour may breach the barricade and spill the sewage on the road.

"The smell also becomes unbearable at night, and the stagnating water on one side has resulted in many mosquitoes entering our homes. We have complained many times to the GHMC," says Lakshmi, a local commuter.

The biggest problem still continues to be traffic, as commuters either have to go via the Gachibowli-Hafeezpet road or the KBHP road, which is a detour of more than 10km either way.

A traffic policeman at the spot said that simple road widening could solve the problem. 

"The traffic lines up for even 3 or 4 km on certain days, and it gets really hard to control the vehicles. Everyone tries to cut each other and squeeze into the two underpasses, which only makes things worse," he said.

"Even if one of the underpasses are widened, then it will be a lot of relief, but it will be tough if it continues the same way," he added.

Speaking to TNM, local GHMC corporator Mandadi Srinivasa Rao said that though there were no plans to widen the existing underpasses, the municipal body was looking into the issue.

"A Road under Bridge (RuB) has been sanctioned to be built on the other side of the MMTS railway station. We are already working on it," he said.

When asked about a tentative deadline, he said, "We will not have to sit down and negotiate with local railway officials. Some of the work has to be done by them, while we will do the rest. It is a time-taking process."