In a major boost to the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS) government, the Telangana High Court has granted permission to the state to go ahead with its plans of constructing a new Secretariat by demolishing the present buildings on the premises.
The court, which was hearing a batch of petitions filed by Congress leader T Jeevan Reddy and Forum for Good Governance Secretary Padmanabha Reddy, had reserved its judgement in March.
"We do not find any irregularity in the cabinet decision to demolish the Secretariat," the court was quoted as saying, in its observations.
While it allowed the petitioners to challenge the order in the Supreme Court, it refused to put its orders in abeyance until then.
During earlier hearings, the Telangana government had argued that it was up to the state as a 'policy decision' to demolish the existing Secretariat buildings and construct new ones in their place. It dubbed the petitions 'politically motivated' and said that it was acting on scientific reports submitted by an expert technical committee and a cabinet sub-committee.
Both the committees had recommended the demolition of the existing buildings, stating that the growth of the city and the state in the future had to be kept in mind.
Two Public Interest Litigations (PILs) had also been filed — one by Telangana Jana Samithi (TJS) Vice President Professor PL Vishweswar Rao and the other by Congress MP Revanth Reddy.
The petitioners had argued that the whole process was an unneeded expenditure from the state's exchequer and said that the present buildings were structurally sound enough to be used for many years after minor modifications.
It was in 2019 that Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao told reporters that the state government wanted to construct a new Secretariat complex by demolishing the existing structures near the Hussain Sagar lake, along with a new Assembly building at a cost of Rs 100 crore, for which it planned to raze Errum Manzil.
While the state did not get a green signal for the latter, the court has allowed it to go ahead with its plans of a new Secretariat.
The offices located in the Secretariat were shifted out in August last year and decentralised with various departments functioning out of different buildings. Most of the departments were shifted to the BRK Bhavan in Hyderabad, where temporary arrangements were made to accommodate them.
The state government, during earlier hearings, has said that it would require Rs 300 to Rs 400 crore to build the new Secretariat and expressed confidence that it could finish construction in a 12-month period. Designs of the new buildings were also being finalised.