It is that time of the year in Hyderabad, when roads are repaired and the myriad civic issues of localities along a certain stretch in Secunderabad are addressed. The occasion is not Christmas, but the President's visit to the city during his annual 10-day sojourn to the south.
President Pranab Mukherjee arrived in Hyderabad on December 22, and then drove to Rashtrapati Nilayam in Secunderabad, where he will stay till December 31, while making visits to other southern cities.
For months now, the residents in various parts of Secunderabad from Neredmet to Safilguda and Malkajgiri, have been complaining about the poor state of roads in the cantonment area, which has made commuting miserable.
With the President's visit, however, some roads in these areas are getting a quick facelift. Unfortunately, these repairs seem to only ensure that the roads that his convoy passes through are flawless, while residents continue to make roller-coaster rides through potholes and craters just a few kilometres away.
Tired of government apathy, angry residents have now begun an online petition to highlight their cause.
The petition titled, â€śPlease checkout your neighborhood in Hyderabad Mr. President!â€ť, charts a route for him on Google Maps, appealing to Mukherjee to take a tour of these roads and help them.
"We, the residents living within the Malkajgiri, Kapra municipal limits have been struggling with abysmal roads... we cannot even take a few steps without coming across an eyesore. I request you to take a tour of your neighbourhood (to) have a first-hand experience of how inferior Indian urban infrastructure is and what difficulties an average citizen has to go through each day," the petition reads.
"This gesture of yours will surely go a long way in waking-up the slumbering civic authorities here... We eagerly look forward to your cavalcade passing by our homes soon," it adds.
According to reports, the patch-up work was taken up by the Military Engineering Services (MES), who are also in charge of repairing the roads in the Cantonment area, like the Gough Road.
However, Gough Road is currently the victim of a civilian-Army conflict.
For more than two years now, the Army has been trying to block access of the road to civilians, with residents hitting back with several petitions and a case in the Hyderabad High Court.
After several meeting between MLAs, MPs and the intervention of the Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao and Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, the road stands open for civilians right now, except between 10pm and 6am.
Over the past month, locals have witnessed the road deteriorating, and allege that the Army has not taken any steps to repair it.
"While some roads in Safilguda have been repaired after representations to officials in the government, the stretch that comes under Gough Road is still to be repaired, even though we have submitted a representation to the President of the Secunderabad Cantonment Board," says BT Srinivasan, General Secretary of the United Federation of Residents Welfare Associations.
"There is also talk that the Army may be deliberately discouraging people from using the Gough Road and they have intentionally not taken any steps to repair the road," he alleges.
As of now, the Army has stated that it will close the road from May 30, 2017, and has agreed to coordinate with the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) for alternate routes.
"Maybe the Army is waiting to gain complete control over the road, following which it plans to repair it. As of now, the road itself has become a struggle for commuters," Srinivasan adds