Hyderabad: Referring to the government’s instructions to pare expenses and allot funds only to emergency works due to the ongoing financial crisis, the Telangana High Court on Thursday asked how the state could afford crores of rupees to demolish the old secretariat complex and build a new one.
The division bench comprising Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice A. Abhishek Reddy was dealing with five PILs that have challenged the impending demolition of the Secretariat and the construction of aa new one.
Calling attention to the recession, the bench observed that as per media reports, the state is “reeling” under a financial crisis and the government itself is saying that its hands are tied. “It is directing its various departments to spend money in small amounts. If that be so, can it afford to construct new structures spending huge money,” the bench asked.
The Chief Justice faulted the government for not estimating the cost of the new construction. “Any expert could give an estimation by calculating the cost per square feet. Unfortunately, the state government has not even estimated that so far.”
Questioning the time limit given to complete the construction, the court was apprehensive that scattering the departments in different locations could jeopardise work.
The Chief Justice said, “In circulation of files to the departments concerned, the papers may be taken out and may fall into the hands of the wrong people if the offices are not integrated.”
He stated that it would become difficult to run the secretariat from different places for a long time, as the construction work would take 3-5 years or more. It took 12 years to complete the Rajasthan High Court building, from 2007 to 2019, he said.
Additional Advocate General J. Ramachandra Rao said that the state government had completed the world famous Kaleshwaram project in three years. It had the efficiency to build the proposed secretariat in a short time. He explained that after shifting the departments from the old secretariat, 70 per cent of the offices were located at one place at BRKR Bhavan.
After a long spell of arguments, the bench directed the principal secretary, roads and buildings, to furnish data pertaining to the Secretariat and construction of the new compled and adjourned the hearing to January 7.