Chief Minister Jagan Mohan Reddy and former CM Chandrababu Naidu continued to spar in the Andhra Pradesh Assembly, this time over the demolition of the Praja Vedika and the controversy over Naidu’s rented residence in Amaravati.
Claiming that both the buildings had not flouted any construction norms, Naidu read a document on ‘Restriction of building activity in the vicinity of certain areas: Water bodies’, pointing out that while the permissible distance between his residence and the Prakasam barrage reservoir would be 30 metres, the building is 130 metres away.
As Naidu began to read out the by-laws, the Jagan demanded to know the date on the document. “Once the river conservator, who is the authority, opposed it, and his residence became illegal, he directly went on to claim that there is no danger of floods. He has no concern for what could happen to the people. He just wanted to regularise his building because he was the CM. When pointed out that he himself has changed the laws to suit him, he doesn’t tell the date on the document,” said Jagan.
The Praja Vedika had been built by the previous Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government and was used by Naidu for official purposes as well as to hold party meetings. Within a month of being elected to power in May, Jagan announced that the demolition of illegal structures on the banks of the river will begin by razing Praja Vedika. After demolishing the Praja Vedika, the state government sent a demolition notice to Naidu’s rented residence at Amaravati. The notice was issued stating that certain constructions on the bank of Krishna river violate environmental laws.
Naidu claimed that he was being personally targeted, as the Praja Vedika was demolished right after he had appealed to use the state government-owned premises for his official use. Reading from a Supreme Court judgement dated July 2, 2015, which refers to The Government Buildings Act, 1899, Naidu said that the Act “gives exemption of certain government buildings from municipal laws, to raise... the building within municipalities”.
Naidu went on to say that he was not concerned for himself. “I have 40 years of experience. I will sleep on the road and work, but I won’t be intimidated by your threats,” he said, claiming that he was arguing on behalf of the people in the state who are scared of being affected by the multiple demolitions being carried out with a vengeance.
Jagan said that as Naidu himself had flouted norms as the Chief Minister and constructed a building in flood-prone areas, his attitude had led to many others doing the same. “There have been severe floods in Mumbai and Chennai. Every time it rains heavily, cities drown and cause inconvenience to the people. Why is there such a bad situation of waterlogging in cities? It’s because of buildings obstructing the flood course. This could lead to a dangerous situation,” said Jagan.
Defending the legality of the buildings, Naidu said, “When he (Jagan) was a Member of the Parliament, he illegally erected thousands of statues of YSR. Now he is talking about laws”.