Finally, Telangana HC allows Secretariat demolition

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After putting brakes on the demolition of the Old Secretariat building in Saifabad for more than a week, the Telangana High Court on Friday once again gave a green signal to the KCR government to continue with the demolition process.

Hearing a petition filed by retired professor P L Visheshwar Rao, the High Court had halted the demolition of the old Secretariat building on July 10. The High Court again directed the Telangana government to stop the demolition works till July 15. Further, the court had extended the stay on demolition of the building till July 16. The court had earlier directed the central government to submit a reply on its stand on the environmental issues with regard to the demolition of the Secretariat complex.

The petitioner, through his counsel, had argued that the KCR government went ahead with the demolition of the Secretariat complex in violation of the Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules 2016, against the Provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 and against the provisions of the Environment Protection Act 1986, among other laws. The petitioner contended that the Environment Protection Act was being violated as the demolition did not have prior environment clearance by the central ministry concerned. On its part, Advocate-General B S Prasad argued that environmental clearances were not required for demolition of buildings.

Further, the AG had put forth arguments that the Telangana government got necessary permission from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation for demolition of the Old Secretariat building. The High Court agreed with the contention of the state government and quashed the petition filed by P L Visheswar Rao. However, the court directed the state government to follow all Covid-19 regulations while undertaking the demolition activity.

On June 28, the Telangana High Court gave its nod to demolish the old Secretariat building complex. Following this, the Telangana government began the demolition activity. At least 60 per cent of the old Secretariat, spread over 25.5 acres with 10 blocks, was razed to the ground. In the meanwhile, P L Visheshwar Rao filed a petition seeking the High Court directions to halt the demolition works.

The petitioner had earlier argued that the building was being demolished in violation of Covid-19 regulations. The petitioner also contended that the demolition has led to air pollution at a time the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad are seeing an alarming rise in Covid-19 cases. Such demolition has led to severe breathing problems for the residents in Saifabad area.

On Thursday, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had issued notices to the Telangana government and the Union government over the demolition of Old Secretariat. The notices were given on a petition filed by Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee (TPCC) working president and Parliament member from Malkajgiri constituency A Revanth Reddy, who alleged that the demolition of Old Secretariat was carried out without necessary environmental clearances. He asked the KCR government as to how his administration allowed demolition of the state secretariat without taking requisite environmental clearances. In the petition to NGT, Revanth Reddy said the TRS government ignored the norms prescribed by the green tribunal.

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