Why KCR is adamant on new Secretariat plans

Hyderabad, Nov 5: Notwithstanding the stiff resistance from opposition parties as well as concerned citizens and environmentalists to his plans, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao remains adamant on building a new Secretariat complex.

He told the state Assembly on last week that the TRS government will not rest till the new Secretariat comes up at Bison Polo Ground. He made it clear that there is no going back on the plans to build the complex comprising Secretariat, state Assembly, Council, offices of heads of departments and a cultural centre.

He brushed aside the criticism that his plans to have the complex on 72 acres of land of Bison Polo and Gymkhana grounds will eat away a vital lung space in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad.

Adopting a belligerent stand when opposition BJP raised the issue during question hour, KCR said there was no proposal to withdraw the plans.

“If need be, we will wage a court battle against the Union defence ministry to get possession of the land to realise our plan,” he said.

He told the House that the complex will be built at a cost not exceeding Rs.500 and assured that the government will satisfy all conditions laid down by the Supreme Court and Defence Ministry.

Launching a counter attack on BJP, TRS chief claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had praised the state government’s plans. He said Modi would be invited to lay foundation stone for the project.

The state government’s plans are facing stiff resistance from opposition parties, who allege that he is wasting public money to make sure that a vaastu-compliant secretariat. Some opposition leaders have even claimed that KCR wants this so that his son K. T. Rama Rao become the chief minister in future.

KCR, however, told the Assembly that ‘vaastu’ was not the only reason for going for a new building. He claimed that among all the states in the country, the Secretariat of Telangana is the worst one.

“Some foreign dignitaries who came to meet me asked me why Telangana state did not have a good Secretariat because of which I felt insulted. When I conduct lengthy meetings, there is no facility for meals to be served during the break. We had to go to the Marriott Hotel to have lunch after a meeting,” he said.

Environmentalists, sportspersons and eminent citizens are also opposing the plans. Prominent residents of Secunderabad including former Director General of Police M.V. Bhaskara Rao, veteran cricketer Vivek Jaisimha, sportsperson Turlpati Bharadwaj and squadron leader Anil Bhalla have even challenged the move in Hyderabad High Court.

KCR said Bison Polo Ground is not a playground, but merely defence land.He also hinted that available sporting facilities in the city are not being fully utilised. “There are 19 big stadia and playgrounds such as Gachibowli stadium, Kotla Vijaya Bhaskar Reddy stadium and Uppal stadium in the city. But none of them is being utilized for sport. In fact, former Union minister Bandaru Dattatreya performed his daughter’s marriage at Gachibowli stadium,” he said while launching another attack on BJP.

“Bison Polo Ground is part of Cantonment land given by the Nizam to the British and the ownership of the land had not been transferred to the Centre,” he said.

Claiming that the ownership remained with the state government, he said that if the Centre imposed ludicrous conditions on its transfer, the state was ready to move court.

The CM explained what’s wrong with the existing secretariat. “None of the buildings were constructed in accordance with rules and safety guidelines. The chief minister’s block (C-Block) does not have a video conference room. There is no proper parking space, fire-fighting equipment and office space for ministers, staff and heads of department, who are scattered all over the city. There have been fire accidents in the secretariat buildings. Previous governments constructed secretariat blocks without a proper plan,” he said.

According to KCR, shifting of the Secretariat is not a new idea. When Neelam Sanjeeva Reddy was chief minister of united AP, he proposed shifting the Secretariat to either Patigadda or Erramanzil. Similarly, in 1969, chief minister K Brahmananda Reddy proposed a new Secretariat, but it could not materialise due to various reasons.

He said the new Secretariat would reflect the pride and glory of TS and cater to the needs of Telangana for next 100 years.

Political observers say KCR want to have his name etched in the history of Telangana as the first chief minister of the state who built iconic structures.

“It is part of his larger plan to ensure that Telangana has its own distinct identity and that he goes down in the history as a leader who not only fought and achieved the separate state but gave it some landmark buildings,” said an analyst.

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