Residents of Hyderabad presently have mixed feelings. While the state government is finally laying brand new roads, and sprucing up various parts of the city, the timing of officials getting to work has been raising eyebrows.
The city is gearing up for the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES), which will be attended by United States President Donald Trump's daughter and White House advisor Ivanka Trump.
The GES, to be held at the Hyderabad International Convention Centre (HICC), will bring together 1,200 entrepreneurs, investors and ecosystem supporters for two-and-half days of training and mentoring sessions, networking and investment matchmaking. The two-day summit will start on November 28.
Since the event will also be attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and several prominent personalities, state authorities are bending over backwards, trying to give the city a facelift within the next two weeks.
The Telangana government has also rolled out a new scheme for the city's residents. From December 1, the government will reward citizens with Rs 500 for information on 'beggars', those who are homeless and living on the streets. The ‚Äėscheme‚Äô was initially started earlier, but after criticism, the government claimed that the drive was part of their plan for reformation and rehabilitation of beggars, and said that the drive would be postponed to December 1, after Ivanka Trump‚Äôs visit.
However, the crackdown on beggars began on October 20 and those found on the streets were shifted to Anand Aashram near the Chanchalguda prison and Cherlapally prison.
The Telangana Prisons and Correctional Services officials said that they have released 111 men, 91 women and 10 children who were homeless from Chanchalguda and Cherlapally, after taking an undertaking, their fingerprints and photos.
According to the undertaking, the homeless, if caught begging again in the city, would be arrested under Prevention of Begging Act 1977 with an imprisonment ranging from six months to five years.
This followed a notification issued by outgoing city police Commissioner M Mahender Reddy, who said that the ban on begging would be in place, until January.
Reports suggested that US officials had told Indian security authorities that Ivanka may want to visit Charminar, Laadbazar, Chowmahalla Palace, and Falaknuma Palace, subject to security clearance.
While the itinerary is yet to be finalised, she is also expected to attend a dinner hosted at the Taj Falaknuma, along with PM Narendra Modi, while another dinner for GES delegates would be hosted at Golconda fort.
‚ÄúThis is an opportunity to showcase our country‚Äôs heritage to the delegates. Two receptions will be organised ‚ÄĒ one at the Falaknuma Palace and the other at Golconda fort,‚ÄĚ Information Technology and Industries Secretary Jayesh Ranjan told media persons.
For this, security at Westin Hotel (where she is slated to stay), Taj Falaknuma, and several other areas that are on the way, are being beefed up.
The Charminar Pedestrianisation Project (CPP), which aims to pedestrianise a radius of 220 metres around Charminar, by diverting vehicular traffic through the Inner Ring Road (IRR) and the Outer Ring Road (ORR), has also picked up speed and is progressing rapidly.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is also busy carrying out conservation and repair works on the monument and its pillars itself.
Better roads, finally
Hyderabad is notorious for its crumbling roads, and Ivanka's visit seems to be helping out, at least for those who stay near HITEX and other areas near the venue of the event.
According to reports, pavements have been fixed, new trees have been planted and cement benches have been given a fresh coat of paint at Begumpet Airport Road, Jubilee Hills Check Post, Cyber Towers, HITEX and HICC, so that they glow at night. This is the path that several delegates are expected to take.
This has not gone unnoticed by the city's residents, who have been taking to Twitter, asking Ivanka to visit the city frequently, so the roads are maintained.
@IvankaTrump Thank You Ivanka in advance for visiting Hyderabad,India @GHMCOnline @HMDA_Gov @KTRTRS at least the local governing body started repairing the roads,filling the potholes,widening d Airport Road.Can we request u to visit Hyderabad every three months for r betterment‚ÄĒ Nirola (@nir_ola) November 13, 2017
@IvankaTrump when you come to Hyderabad, India can you please travel a little ahead and take right towards Kondapur. We are desperate to have a better road as 1000's of us travel and struggle everyday.@KTRTRS#Hyderabad #HyderabadRoads #IvankaTrump‚ÄĒ H C (@hemanthkakumanu) November 10, 2017
@IvankaTrump Heard you are coming to Hyderabad & suddenly police has banned all beggars from roads. Can you please take a ride on all roads in the Gachibowli and Kondapur area at least... Hope @GHMCOnline will start road construction then :P‚ÄĒ Angry__Indian (@Angry__Indian) November 9, 2017
Meanwhile, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) is also adopting a method called micro surfacing, to repair roads.
"Microsurfacing is a slurry seal (mixture of toughened polymer modified asphalt, aggregate and fillers) which is used for maintaining existing road," the GHMC explained in a press note.
While it is time saving, cheaper, durable in all weathers, and sets quickly, there is also a disadvantage.
"In contrast to the numerous advantages of using Microsurfacing, the only limitation of Microsurfacing is that it has little structural value. It is primarily a maintenance tool. It will not save a failed pavement. Its life span is 3 to 5 years," the GHMC stated.