Telangana HC stalls demolition of old secretariat building in Hyderabad

CM K Chandrasekhar Rao says sorry over 'damage' to mosques, temple on-site, promises a more spacious site.

The Telangana High Court has stalled the demolition of the old secretariat building in Hyderabad until July 13 while hearing a PIL in this regard. As part of its plan to build a modern secretariat building, the Telangana government began the work to demolish the existing secretariat from Tuesday.

Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B Vijayasen Reddy passed the order Friday while hearing the PIL filed by political activists Prof PL Vishweshwar Rao and Dr Cheruku Sudharkar. The PIL cites the Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016 in to corner the government.

Praying that the demolition work violates Rule 4(3) of the Rules of 2016, the counsel for the petitioners, Prabhakar Chikkudu, informed the court that “despite the fact that demolition work has commenced, no Waste Management Plan was ever submitted to the local authority, and no approval has been given by the local authority for commencing the demolition work”.

The bench listed the case for further hearing on July 13 after Advocate General BS Prasad sought time to find out if any waste management plan was submitted to the authority concerned, and if approval has been issued by them.

“Since it is unclear, at the moment, whether any Waste Management Plan was ever submitted, and whether such an approval exists or not, prima facie, the present demolition is in violation of Rule 4(3) of the Rules of 2016. Therefore, the respondents are directed to stop the demolition of Secretariat Buildings forthwith till the adherence to Rule 4(3) of the Rules of 2016 is established before this Court. The stay order shall continue till the next date,” the bench said.

The demolition of 10 blocks of the state secretariat building complex, located on a 25.5-acre land adjoining Hussainsagar lake in Hyderabad, was taken up on the intervening night of July 6 and 7. The operation was meticulously planned and all roads leading to the secretariat have been blocked since. No media has been allowed to get visuals of demolition though officials maintain that a large number of labourers and machinery including earthmovers are on the job.

The demolition sparked controversy after reports emerged that two mosques and a temple on the premises have been brought down.

Amid widespread criticism from opposition leaders and Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi-led Muslim groups condemning the demolition, the Telangana Chief Minister’s Office Friday issued a note promising to re-build the places of worship at a more spacious site.

Underlining that Telangana was a secular state, CM K Chandrasekhar Rao expressed “regret and pain over some inconvenience caused to the temple and mosque in the old Secretariat premises due to the ongoing demolition works.”

“I feel sorry and regret the incident. The government’s intention was only to construct the new Secretariat and never was to cause inconvenience to any place of worship,” the CM said in the statement, promising to meet with management of the places of worship.

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