Telangana HC again extends stay on Secretariat demolition

Hyderabad:  The Telangana High Court on Wednesday extended the stay on the demolition of existing Secretariat buildings by another day.

The court asked the Central government to spell out its stand if demolition work requires environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment.

A division bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B. Vijayasen Reddy, on Wednesday resumed the hearing on the petition challenging the demolition work.

Advocate General B.S. Prasad submitted to the court a copy of the resolution passed by the cabinet to demolish the existing buildings of the Secretariat to build a new complex.

The petitioner’s counsel argued that environmental clearance was not taken for the demolition work. The government, however, contended that there is no need for environmental clearance, and that the permission was taken from the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).

The bench asked the Central government to inform it on Thursday whether demolition work requires environmental clearance.

The court on July 10 had temporarily stayed the demolition work till July 13. However, as the government failed to submit a copy of the cabinet resolution, the stay was extended till July 15.

The petition has been filed by Professor P.L. Vishweshwar Rao, Convenor Telangana Democratic Forum and Vice President of Telangana Jana Samithi.

He complained that the demolition of 10 blocks of the Secretariat building occupying 10 lakh square feet was without following the procedure laid down under the Demolition and Construction Rules.

The petitioner said in the existing Covid-19 situation the demolition impacts and aggravates the respiratory problems of the people living in the surroundings of the building.

The government started demolition of existing buildings of the old Secretariat on July 7.

It was on June 27 last year that Chief Minister K. Chandrashekhar Rao had laid the foundation stone for the new Secretariat. Subsequently, the Secretariat was temporarily shifted to BRK Bhavan.

The opposition parties, some heritage activists and concerned citizens had opposed the construction of the new complex, terming it a wasteful expenditure.

The High Court on June 29 dismissed petitions challenging the government’s decision to raze the old buildings and build a new complex in its place, ruling that building a new Secretariat is a policy decision by the government and the court can’t interfere with it.