In a jolt to the Telangana government, the Telangana High Court on Friday temporarily stayed the demolition of existing secretariat building for construction of a new complex.
As the demolition continued on the fourth day, a division bench of the high court passed interim orders staying the works till Monday.
A division bench comprising Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B Vijayasen Reddy passed the orders on a petition filed by Professor P.L. Vishweshwar Rao, Convenor, Telangana Democratic Forum and Vice President of Telangana Jana Samithi.
The court asked the government to place before it all the requisite permissions taken from the authorities concerned for demolition work.
The petitioner 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.
He 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 petitioner said the demolition decision is in violation of Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules 2016, Provisions of the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897, Environment Protection Act 1986 and against the provisions of the Disaster Management Act 2005. None of the procedures prescribed was followed and no permission was obtained from the local authorities in accordance with the Solid Waste Management Rules, said the petitioner.
He also challenged construction of the new secretariat building in 7 lakh square feet in the same place which is adjacent to the Hussain Sagar lake on the ground that this could lead to pollution in the lake.
Advocate General B. S. Prasad submitted to the court that all necessary permissions were taken before starting the demolition work. The division bench directed him to place the same before it on Monday and ordered that till then the demolition work should be stopped.
The government started demolition of existing buildings of old secretariat in the early hours of Tuesday.
One of the 10 buildings was constructed in 1888 during the times of seventh Nizam, Mir Osman Ali Khan, the last ruler of erstwhile Hyderabad state. Known as Saifabad Palace and built in European architecture, it used to house the office of Nizam’s Prime Minister till Hyderabad’s accession with the Indian union in 1948.
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.
The court ruled that building a new secretariat is a policy decision by the government and the court can’t interfere with it.