Ground report: Newly-constructed Telangana collectorate witnesses repeated flooding

The newly-constructed Integrated District Collector Complex that was inaugurated on July 4 by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao has witnessed inundation several times now.
The Collector being brought out of the collectorate on a tractor
The Collector being brought out of the collectorate on a tractor
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A video of Rajanna Sircilla Collector Anuraag Jayanti and his team of officials being brought out on a blue coloured tractor from inside the recently-inaugurated Integrated District Collectorate Complex was viral on social media earlier this week. Around 20 officials were seen seated on the tractor as the newly-appointed Collector sat in the front, beside the driver of the tractor. An earthmover followed closely behind the team of officials. The heavy rains that lashed several parts of the state including Rajanna Sircilla district had inundated the entrance to the collectorate complex on Tuesday, September 28, and the water soon entered into the cellar of the building. The only way out for the Collector was with the help of a tractor.

However, this was far from the first time that the collectorate complex, located around 5 km from the town near the Sircilla bye-pass, was inundated. It was on July 4, that Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao inaugurated the complex. This was one of the many inaugurations that was planned during the CM’s whirlwind tour of the district. He was accompanied by his son KT Rama Rao who is also the elected representative from the same district and the Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development. Less than a month after this inauguration, flooding was reported on July 22. Back then too, several videos of the collectorate office were viral on social media. 

Speaking to TNM, a senior employee at the collectorate said, “This flooding has become a real issue for all of us. There is definitely an elevation problem here. In the last three months, around four times we have witnessed inundation.”

When TNM visited the complex on Thursday, September 30, several earth movers were seen pressed into service. Heavy machinery was brought in to widen a canal that was located at the corner of the entrance of the complex. Though the waters had receded, marshy patches in the newly sculpted greenery located around the collectorate complex were still visible.

A driver who works in the complex recounted how the water levels rose suddenly. Pointing to the wall to show the level to which the water had risen, he said, “The water rose suddenly. It rose up to this height. Fortunately, most vehicles were outside and not in the cellar. It took two days for the water to recede. It had to be pumped out using motors.” The inundation had left behind trails on the pillars in the cellar.

A security personnel deployed at the complex said, “We are usually on duty inside the secretariat. However, due to the flooding at the entrance, we did not enter the complex on that day. We were on duty outside the gate itself.” When asked why the building was repeatedly witnessing inundation, the same security personnel said, “Even if someone was to construct a house, we wouldn’t construct at a location like this. The land here is low and not elevated. It is naturally prone to flooding.”

Anuraag Jayanti took charge as the new District Collector in the first week of September. Speaking to TNM, he said, “I wouldn’t call it flooding. Inundation would be a more apt word. We are carrying out remedial procedures to ensure this doesn’t happen again.” When asked about media reports about having spent the night at the collectorate because of the flooding he said, “That is not true. Do not believe these rumours. I attended a meeting inside the collectorate on that day and then left. The video was taken when we were leaving.”

As an immediate solution, officials are widening the canals to ensure more space for the water to flow when it rains heavily. According to sources in the collectorate, a detailed project report is being worked upon regarding how a permanent solution can be found to the recurring issue. They also plan to construct an alternate entrance to the complex. 

The Integrated Collectorate Complex has around 100 rooms and is located on a 93-acre land. Located at the Sircilla Bypass, the complex was constructed at a cost of Rs 72 crore. The complex has four blocks and houses more than 100 rooms. Over 50 departments have been allotted rooms in the four blocks. A 30-feet road has been laid around the collectorate. The complex also has a spacious parking for around 100 vehicles in the cellar. A four-lane road was laid from the main entrance of the collectorate to the complex. The government decided to bring all departments under the same complex for the convenience of those visiting the collectorate.

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