Build, renovate, demolish, re-buildhttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/telangana-secretariat-build-renovate-demolish-re-build-5818921/

Build, renovate, demolish, re-build

In Andhra-Telangana saga, now Telangana set to raze Secretariat, build new Assembly, for Rs 500 crore

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The Telangana Secretariat, to be replaced by ‘vaastu-compliant’ buildings. G Block, constructed in 1880s, is in the front and will be among the 10 blocks razed. Express Photo

To be demolished

10 blocks, spread over 2.5 acres, which comprise the Telangana Secretariat, to be replaced by “vaastu-compliant” buildings. Of these blocks, the G Block was constructed in the 1880s. The sixth Nizam ran his government from here and it housed the Nizam’s Prime Minister’s Office till Independence. The remaining nine blocks were built by various CMs — N T Rama Rao built the C block, N Chandrababu Naidu the D block.

The reason

K Chandrashekar Rao who took over as the first CM of the new state of Telangana felt that the Secretariat buildings including the C block which has the CM’s chambers had “negative vibes” and brought bad luck to whoever occupied the post. (NTR had lost power in a coup staged by his son-in-law N Chandrababu Naidu; Y S Rajashekara Reddy died within three months of coming back to power; his successor K Rosaiah resigned in a huff citing constant heckling by YSR supporters; while the term of N Kiran Kumar Reddy ended in the bifurcation of Andhra Pradesh.) With KCR wary of functioning out of the Secretariat, land had been acquired and extensive renovations made to the CM’s office-cum-residence at Begumpet. KCR has not visited the Secretariat now in four-and-a-half years. Officially, the reason also is that fire safety, improper access, and congestion are a problem at the Secretariat.

The division, and after

When Andhra and Telangana divided assets after the state was split, Andhra was allotted blocks H, K and L while Telangana retained A, B, C, D blocks of the Secretariat. Although the Andhra Secretariat has shifted to Amaravati, then CM Naidu was averse to handing over the buildings which the state could retain till 2024 as per the agreement. However, while the H and L blocks were renovated and refurnished by the Naidu government in 2015-16, it never used them. KCR’s requests to the Defence Ministry to hand over the Bison Polo ground for a new Secretariat were denied. After Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy, a friend of KCR, became the CM recently, KCR convinced him to hand over the blocks retained by Andhra.

The controversy

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Why did Naidu as well as KCR spend money sprucing up the Secretariat blocks if the building was going to be demolished, is a question many are asking. Calling the new Secretariat a waste of public money, the Congress has called it indulgence of KCR’s “wishes and whims”. “We are reminded of 13th-century ruler Tughlaq who razed buildings and constructed new ones. There is nothing wrong with the existing Secretariat buildings. They can be used for several decades,” Leader of Opposition M Bhatti Vikramarka said.

Plus, along with the existing Secretariat blocks, Errum Manzil, a palace built in 1870 on a hillock near Khiratabad, is also going to be razed. The KCR government wants to build a “spacious” and “modern” Assembly building in its place. Opposing the move, Anuradha Reddy of INTACH said, “All over the country and across the world, heritage structures are being protected and renovated. Here we are razing them down.”

Says Animal husbandry, Fisheries and Cinematography Minister Talasani Srinivas Yadav, “We will build a better and more spacious Secretariat. The planning and layout of the existing buildings are very unscientific, resulting in congestion and parking problems. The CM is hiring the best architects and consultants for this. We will create about 7 lakh sq feet of office space and the Secretariat and Assembly buildings will be Hyderabad’s icons.”

The plan

On June 27, KCR laid the foundation stone for the new Secretariat, to be built at a cost of Rs 400 crore. A temple and mosque located in the complex are likely to be shifted to the periphery to create more space and for “aesthetic reasons”. The plan is to have a minister’s office and all the departments under his/her portfolio as well as offices of their respective secretaries and heads on the same floor or the same building. The new Assembly building will be built at a cost of Rs 100 crore and may be modelled on the Parliament House.