Telangana HC halts demolition of Secretariat building

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The Telangana High Court on Friday put brakes to the ongoing demolition of the old Secretariat building in Saifabad.

A petition was filed by retired professor P L Visheshwar Rao seeking a stay on the demolition of the Secretariat building. The petitioner argued that the building was being demolished in violation of Covid-19 regulations. The petitioner also argued that the demolition has led to air pollution at a time GHMC has been witnessing an alarming rise in Covid-19 cases. Such demolition is leading to severe breathing problems for the residents in and around the Secretariat building.

Hearing the petitioner’s arguments, the High Court directed the KCR government to put on hold until Monday the demolition of the old Secretariat building. The HC directed the state government to stop all demolition works until further notice. The court also asked the government to submit a report on what safety measures were initiated while carrying out the demolition activity.

Already, 60 percent of the old Secretariat building, spread over 25.5 acres with 10 blocks, which began in the early hours of June 7 had been razed to the ground.

Almost all the 10 blocks of the building had already been razed to ground, including the Saifabad Palace which was built in 1888 in European style by Mir Osman Ali Khan, seventh Nizam and the last ruler of erstwhile Hyderabad State. The Saifabad Palace once the seat of Nizam’s Prime Minister till Hyderabad”s accession with the Indian Union in 1948. The G-Block, also known as Sarvahitha from where N T Rama Rao discharged his duties as chief minister was also demolished. The C-Block and the H Block which served as the offices of former CMs Marri Channa Reddy and Chandrababu Naidu respectively were razed to the ground.

On June 28, the Telangana High Court gave a green signal to the KCR government to undertake demolition of the Secretariat building while dismissing a batch of petitions opposing it. The petitioners contended that the demolition of the Secretariat building will bleed the exchequer at a time the state was reeling under financial strain with huge debts. However, the government argued that a new Secretariat was essential in view of the rapidly expanding city.

Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao had laid the foundation stone for the Rs 400 crore new complex on June 27, 2019. With the demolition of the building, vehicular traffic came to a standstill as the lanes around Secretariat were barricaded. Secretariat employees operating from temporary offices at BRK Bhavan near the old premises were given a day off.

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