All those who campaigned vociferously for saving the Bison Polo Ground can heave a collective sigh of relief. On Tuesday, the Telangana government announced that it would construct a new Assembly and Secretariat at the old site after the Centre denied permission for construction at the Bison Polo Ground.
The lady behind the campaign, Gulshan G. Bamboat, who gathered 2,112 signatures in support and posted them to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, while handing over the last 57 signatures in person to former Defence Minister Nirmala Sitaraman when she visited Sainikpuri, says that their plea has at last been heard.
“Ever since the CM announced that he would like to build the Secretariat on the Ground - Many morning walkers, sportspersons, NCC cadets and senior citizens held rallies on the Ground to protest against the building of a concrete jungle on the only available green space in Secunderabad, which also happens to be the main source of water-harvesting to sustain the water table,” she explains.
A Public Interest Litigation was filed by former Director-General of Police M.V. Bhaskar Rao, former cricketer Vivek Jaisimha, chartered accountant T. Bharadwaj and former Squadron Leader Anil Bhalla at the Hyderabad High Court, challenging the reported decision of the Centre to use the Bison Polo Ground for the construction of the Secretariat.
The current move to build the Secretariat at the existing premises was taken post the decision by the Andhra Pradesh Government to hand over all the buildings under its control to Telangana.
“It is a blessing in disguise, the credit goes to the new CM of Andhra Pradesh who generously agreed to hand over the entire block, perhaps this move prompted our Telangana CM to drop his idea of constructing the Secretariat at the Bison Polo and Gymkhana grounds. Now he cannot say ‘insufficient land’. As activists we will organise a roundtable conference shortly, inviting all eminent environmentalists, senior citizens, politicians, retired Army personnel, sports personnel, private and government school management for future protection of the only lung space of Secunderabad,” says Vijay Mohan, Telangana Joint Action Committee member.
The Bison Polo Ground is indeed one of the few major open spaces in Hyderabad, of which the State wanted to take over 33 acres. Hailing the new development, Omim Debara, ex-Secretary, Forum for a ‘Better Hyderabad’ says, “It is a wise decision. There are very few open grounds left which have to be preserved for planting of trees. The government should leave these spaces for sports and cultural activities of the people.”
It’s a major victory for the citizens who had staged several protests over the last few years. “There is no great favour done by the government in opting out of BP grounds, as this was never going to be a viable option in the first place. As an architect, I think reconstruction of the existing Secretariat to give a Telangana ethos is very much possible without demolishing the whole thing, which will be another wasteful exercise,” says Shankar Narayanan, an architect by profession...