The Telangana High Court on Thursday directed the state government to provide the court with the plan and design of the proposed new secretariat complex. The court has also asked the K Chandrashekar Rao government to reveal the time required for completing the project and also on how they intend to fund the project. The High Court bench of Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A Abhishek Reddy issued the direction in response to PILs challenging the state government's decision to demolish the present secretariat and build a new one in its place. The PILs were filed in 2016 by Congress legislator T Jeevan Reddy, advocate T Rajnikanth Reddy and a non-profit called Forum for Good Governance.
The petitioners had sought a stay on shifting offices from the existing buildings which are being prepped for demolition. The court had ordered a stay on the demolition process. PILs were also filed by Congress MP A Revanth Reddy and professor Vishweshwar Rao, vice president Telangana Jana Samithi against the secretariat demolition.
Pointing to media reports about the TRS led state government asking departments to cut down on spending due to fund crunch as a result of economic slowdown, the bench wondered how the state government intends to mobilise funds for the project. The court then asked the state government to file an affidavit furnishing details such as maps showing the construction area required for office space in the proposed secretariat complex.
Details on the area assigned to various departments in the existing secretariat have also been sought by the court.
The court pointed out that the technical committee constituted by the state government had not talked about the demolition of the existing secretariat but only its renovation.
The court asked the counsel how the state government could go ahead with its decision of demolishing the secretariat buildings without there being any details relating to its plan, designs, estimates and actual area required for the purpose. The court observed that huge constructions require crores of rupees and wondered if the Telangana government can fund new complex despite the precarious financial position, reported TNIE.
The additional advocate general J Ramachandra Rao representing the state government told the court that no decision has been taken yet on the existing buildings being demolished. Rao told the court that the government has not taken any concrete decision as the money spent on raising new complex will go waste if the court ruled against the government
The additional advocate general said that the state could not make a decision on the new complex due to the High court stay on the demolition process. The bench retorted back to the advocate that the stay was only on the demolition and not on the state's decision-making process.
The state government informed the court that most offices in the existing secretariat have been shifted to BRKR Bhavan and other places in the city. At this point the bench expressed concerns about sensitive government files that now have to be routed between BRKR Bhavan and other offices spread across the city. ToI reported the bench of reminding the state government that building a new secretariat would take decades and that the present temporary arrangement could lead to confidential files ending up in the wrong hands or being intercepted.