In a major victory to citizens who had staged several protests over the last few years, the Telangana government has decided to construct a new Secretariat and Legislative Assembly building at its present premises, by demolishing the buildings belonging to the Andhra Pradesh government, which will be handed over to them shortly.
This would mean that the Bison Polo Ground in Secunderabad, which was being eyed for the purpose by Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, would remain untouched.
The decision was announced after a cabinet meeting, with KCR telling reporters in Hyderabad, "We have decided to build a new Assembly and Secretariat at the old place as the Centre has denied permission to build it at Bison Polo Ground. The previous Andhra government also did not support us in the matter. The newly-formed Andhra government has come forward and is ready to hand over their AP Secretariat's two buildings in Hyderabad to us. Therefore, we have decided to build the new Secretariat in the same place."
While the Secretariat is estimated to cost Rs 400 crore, the Assembly is expected to cost around Rs 100 crore. The buildings would come up over 5 to 6 lakh square feet. The Chief Minister also said that the foundation stone for the Secretariat would be laid on June 27 and further plans would be chalked out soon.
KCR had been considering the land in Gymkhana Ground and Bison Polo Ground, for constructing a new Secretariat, Legislature and a cultural centre on the premises and had made repeated representations to the Centre, including personally to Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
While the Centre had given an 'in-principle' approval for the takeover, the deal was not finalised, as the two governments could not agree on an ideal compensation deal for the land transfer.
Critics had suggested that the Chief Minister was shifting the building, only to make it 'vastu-compliant'. They also contend that there was no need for a new Secretariat, as the existing one next to the Hussain Sagar lake, was perfectly safe and fine. Further, protesters claimed that the move would kill a crucial lung space in Secunderabad.
Two Public Interest Litigations (PILs) were also being heard by the Telangana High Court on the matter, including one by ex-DGP MV Bhaskara Rao, former cricketer Vivek Jaisimha, war veteran and squadron leader Anil Bhalla and chartered accountant Turlapati Bharadwaj.