SC, high court nod for demolition of Telangana secretariat building complex

The Telagana government’s plan to demolish the existing secretariat building complex in Hyderabad cleared all legal hurdles on Friday with both Supreme Court and state high court dismissing the public interest litigation petitions challenging the demolition.

In the morning, the Supreme Court dismissed the petition filed by Congress MLC T Jeevan Reddy challenging the demolition of the old secretariat buildings and construction of new official complex in their place at a cost of around Rs 500 crore.

The apex court made it clear that the construction of the secretariat was a prerogative of the state government and it would not interfere in the policy matter.

“The verdict comes as a slap on the faces of those who are opposed to the construction of a new state-of-the-art integrated Secretariat complex,” an official release from the chief minister’s office said.

In the afternoon, the state high court also gave the green signal for the demolition of the existing secretariat buildings by dismissing a PIL filed by activists P L Vishweshwar Rao and Cheruku Sudhakar.

A division bench of the high court comprising chief justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and justice B Vijayasen Reddy did not agree with the argument put forth by the petitioners that the government had not taken the environmental clearance from the Centre for demolition of the secretariat buildings.

The petitioners argued that the demolition was causing huge environmental pollution, posing threat to the lives of the people in the present coronavirus pandemic situation.

On behalf of the central government, assistant solicitor general N Rajeshwar Rao submitted an affidavit to the court stating that the state government did not require prior environmental clearance to demolish any buildings, but required permissions only for new constructions.

Telangana state advocate general B S Prasad submitted to the court that the state government would take all necessary permissions while taking up construction of new buildings.

The division bench, which heard both the arguments, agreed with the assistant Solicitor General that there was no need for clearance from the Union environment ministry and upheld the decision taken by the state cabinet.

While giving the approval to the government to go ahead with the demolition of the secretariat buildings after taking all the permissions, the high court bench, however, cautioned the authorities to continue the works keeping in view the prevailing Covid-19 situation in the city.

The new secretariat complex is expected to cost Rs 500 crore and will be equipped with state-of-the-art connectivity and other features.

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