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Friday, 8 September, 2000, 16:50 GMT 17:50 UK
Hyderabad's image takes a knock
Ariel shot of city
Hyderabad had the worst rains in 50 years
By Omer Farooq in Hyderabad

Inundated residential areas and colonies . . . people being rescued from rooftops by helicopters . . . roads and bridges under water. . . cars getting washed away . . . these are the images of the Hyderabad from the recent torrential rains and floods.


"The floods have exposed the hollowness of all the talk of infrastructure development in the city

Historian Narendra Luther

The state's techno savvy Chief Minister, Chandra Babu Naidu, had been aggressively marketing the city as nothing less than a newly-emerging alternative to Silicon Valley in the US.

Even President Bill Clinton including the city in his Indian trip this year.

Then came the rains.

"The floods, which were partly a natural and mostly a man-made disaster, have exposed the hollowness of all the talk of infrastructure development in the city", says Narendra Luther, a retired civil servant and historian.

"I do not blame the present government for this situation totally."

"This is the result of the neglect of the past several decades during which encroachments on drainage channels to build houses and the haphazard growth of the city was ignored by the administration and the politicians".

Image problem

Like Luther, several others said that the devastation caused by century's worst rain and the floods had badly damaged the image of the city.

Workers try to build embankments on a swollen river
Workers try contain a swollen river
All eyes are focused on how the IT industry has been hit.

"We are helpless in front of a natural calamity - but one cannot condone a man-made disaster", said Col Vijaykumar who heads the Software Technology Park of India at Hyderabad.

He says that such a disaster does not augur well for a city trying to attract the IT industry and foreign investment.

Several others agreed with his view that the flooding sends a negative signal to the outside world.

However, R Sridharan, deputy manager marketing of L&T Infocity, the promoter of the Hi-Tech City project, does not agree.

'No impact'

"The floods had no impact and even during the floods, IT companies at Hi-Tech City had 80% attendance. There was no dislocation as it was not affected by the floods and even our roads were open", he said.

High-tech Hyderabad
More than 1,000 registered software companies
More than 30,000 software engineers
Software exports worth approx $270,000 in 1999-2000
But individual software companies said that normal functioning was affected as many workers who lived in the flood-hit areas could not make it to the office.

"We had to work on two holidays to compensate for the loss of two days of work", said a senior executive at a major IT company.

Violence

The IT industry has been jolted not only by the floods but also by the violence during a protest in the city against electricity price rises.


The city will recover fast as international interest is increasing day by day

Senior aide to the chief minister
The day violence broke out in the city, several IT companies closed their offices after their staff got news of the police opening fire and rushed back home.

The state government officials do not agree with the view that Hyderabad's image has been impaired permanently.

"Political vested interests are behind this propaganda against the city and the state", said a senior aide of the chief minister.

"But the city will recover fast as international interest is increasing day by day", he says confidently.

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See also:

12 Aug 00 | South Asia
Millions face deluge clear up
11 Aug 00 | South Asia
Red Cross launches Indian flood appeal
25 Aug 00 | South Asia
Andhra Pradesh: At nature's mercy
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