Narayankhed MLA M Bhupal Reddy refuted allegations that he celebrated his birthday with 500 supporters and pressured municipal authorities to demolish the reporter’s home.

The under-construction home of a journalist demolished for not having a building permit in TelanganaParamesh's under-construction home being demolished
news Controversy Saturday, May 23, 2020 - 09:04

A journalist with Telugu news channel V6 has alleged that TRS legislator, Mahareddy Bhupal Reddy, used state machinery to harass him over his reportage. On May 7, Paramesh reported that the Narayankhed MLA had violated lockdown by celebrating his 60th birthday with over 500 supporters. The reporter claimed that the legislator took offence to the report. The MLA was pulled up by the Telangana High Court on May 21 and issued a notice.

The following day, the journalist’s under-construction home was demolished for not having a building permit.

Municipal officials in Narayankhed said they initiated the demolition as the structure was constructed illegally without a permit.

Paramesh claimed that the MLA exerted pressure on Narayankhed Municipal Commissioner Srinivas to single out and demolish the under-construction building.”Bhupal called me shortly after the report was aired and asked why I did the report. I told him there was no false reporting, the story is only about what we saw there,” said Paramesh.

Meanwhile, M Vittal, a social worker, filed a petition with the Telangana High Court over the lockdown violation by the MLA on May 7. A two-judge Bench hearing the petition on May 21 issued notices to the legislator, asking him to file a counter affidavit within a week. The demolition took place a day later on May 22.

The Narayankhed municipal administration sent a JCB to destroy the illegal construction.

“Municipal Commissioner Srinivas told me that he was under pressure from the legislator to take action against me. I have suffered a loss of Rs 10 lakh. We were building a two-bedroom house,” added Paramesh, who said that no demolition notices were sent to him.

Municipal Commissioner Srinivas denied that he was under any pressure from the legislator. “There was no pressure on me. Paramesh did not have the required permits to begin construction,” said the officer.

Explaining the decision to demolish the structure, he said, “The structure stands on a plot that was sold to him this year. Building permits are only given for those registered up until 2018 for now. The turn for 2020 will come later. He should have applied for it online. We were issuing the permit even during the lockdown,” he added.

When asked why demolition notices were not issued, Commissioner Srinivas clarified that no demolition notices are required to remove illegal constructions. The official, however, was unaware of how many such illegal constructions had come to the administration’s notice.

Ideally, the presence of illegal structures within any ward limit is to be informed to the municipal administration by ward committee members under the Telangana Municipalities Act, 2019. Demolition without intimation is permissible if any structure is built without sanctioned plans, under the Act.

“The legislator had assigned his supporters to find my weak points. The illegal construction they refer to was just the walls of a basement without a slab or a roof. We just set up a shed to store the cement and materials,” said Paramesh who admitted that no permission was taken.

“But why was I singled out? Not everyone takes permits. There are many such small sites littered all over the area but they targeted just me?” asked the reporter who, along with journalists associations, have reached out to TRS party working president KT Rama Rao. They hope that action would be taken against the MLA and that no future harassment takes place.

The reporter alleged that shortly after the report was aired, the MLA had called and asked him to do a story showing the Congress in poor light. “He was offended when I told him that the decision on what gets aired is with the editor and accused me of being biased,” said Paramesh.

Bhupal Reddy refuted all allegations.

“I am not concerned with this in any way. I was on some other job, distributing cheques for Kalyana Lakshmi scheme when the demolition took place. These allegations that I instructed officials are false and manipulated. The channel is affiliated to the Congress party in Telangana and wants to defame me. The reporter is affiliated to the Congress party. The channel worked for them during the elections. They are sympathisers who just blame and defame,” claimed the MLA. He added that he was yet to receive an official notice from the court with regard to the petition.

The legislator claimed that the report by V6 was biased to showcase him poor light. “We gave rice and food to poor people. This was done by my well-wishers who also conducted a blood donation camp where about 100 people donated blood that day. We were giving sanitisers and doing relief work, not celebrating the birthday,” he insisted.

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