Even as Telangana is witnessing an alarming rise in Covid-19 infections in the state, Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Tuesday held a high-level meeting to discuss the design of the proposed Secretariat building complex with officials and architects.
At the meeting attended by state ministers and architects from Tamil Nadu Oscar and Ponni, the Chief Minister on Tuesday examined the designs proposed for the new Secretariat and deliberated on the exteriors and interiors of the buildings. The Chief Minister will finalise the design of
the new Secretariat complex which seems to be on the top of his agenda at a time the state is grappling with the growing Covid-19 cases.
Once the design is finalised, it will be tabled before the Cabinet for approval which is a given. After the Cabinet nod, tenders for the works would be invited. Thereafter, the construction of the new Secretariat complex will begin. Rao wants to leave his mark in the pages of Telangana history with the construction of new Secretariat.
Although KCR claims that the new Secretariat complex would reflect the pride of Telangana’s culture, the Opposition parties think the Chief Minister’s move to demolish the existing building and construct a new one is only to etch his name in the history of Telangana.
The new Secretariat complex will come up in the existing premises with the central government yet to clear the file on Telangana government’s plea to construct the building in Bison Polo Grounds, a major lung space for people living in Secunderabad.
The Telangana government will be spending around Rs 400-Rs 500 crore on the building designed by well-known architecture firm `Architect Hafeez Contractor’, a move sharply criticised by the Opposition parties stating that it was a wasteful expenditure of public money at a time the state is fighting the pandemic. Some Opposition leaders even likened KCR to Rome emperor Nero who is said to have fiddled when Rome was burning.
Some even advised the government to use the current Secretariat building to turn into a Covid-19 hospital. However, the KCR government was adamant. Petitions were filed in the High Court by Congress leader Revanth Reddy and retired professor P L Visheshwar Rao to halt the demolition of the old Secretariat building stating that the government has not taken required permissions to raze the building. Further, they contended that the government was spending public money for the construction of the new building.
The petitioners, through their counsels, 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.
After putting brakes on the demolition of the Old Secretariat building in Saifabad for more than a week, the Telangana High Court had recently given a green signal to the KCR government to continue with the demolition process.