Nation Other News 10 Dec 2022 High Court summons C ...

High Court summons CS over delay in Hill Fort work

Published Dec 10, 2022, 7:25 am IST
Updated Dec 10, 2022, 7:25 am IST
Telangana High Court  (DC)
 Telangana High Court (DC)

HYDERABAD: The Telangana High Court on Friday lambasted government and TS Tourism Development Corporation (TSTDC) officers for ignoring its orders for two-and-a-half years to start restoration and conservation work at the Hill Fort Palace (Ritz Hotel) and the surrounding ground, and not even being in a position to inform the court about the definite timeline to initiate the work.

Over the previous five to six hearings, tourism authorities had been informing the court that steps were being taken to start restoration work at the heritage structure, but did not execute the work.

Following this, division bench comprising Chief Justice Ujjal Bhuyan and Justice C.V. Bhaskar Reddy directed the Chief Secretary (Somesh Kumar) to appear before it on December 23 and explain the actual position and present a schedule to start the work.

The court also warned, “If this is not forthcoming, we are afraid we will be compelled to pass necessary orders against all the erring officials including initiating contempt proceedings.”

The bench was adjudicating on a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the Hyderabad Heritage Trust, seeking a direction to the government to take up restoration of the Hill Fort Palace.

On Friday, Harender Pershad, special government pleader, furnished a letter dated December 8, before the court. Written by the managing director of the TSTDC to the Advocate-General, it stated that oral orders had been issued to clean the palace premises.

The work was being monitored by the architect Anuradha Naik, it said. The letter stated that after the receipt of line estimates or detailed project report (DPR) from the architect, further action would be initiated with the approval of the government. Some colour photographs were annexed to the letter as proof of the cleaning operations.

Chief Justice Bhuyan was irritated and observed that cleaning the palace did not mean restoration. “After two-and-a-half years of regular follow-up by the court and directions, you have started jhadu (sweeping) work,” he said.

The Chief Justice pointed out that all the persons in the photographs seen holding brooms etc., were well-dressed, which gave the impression that they were employees of the TSTDC or some government undertaking. The court warned that if such incidents were repeated, it would summon all the persons in the photographs and seek answers from them.

The court asked the authorities how they had informed the court that the government was moved to sanction Rs 50 crore for the work when in reality nothing had been done.

The bench was also furious that Aravind Kumar, special chief secretary, municipal administration, and commissioner (FAC) of HMDA, had not appeared before the court for two hearings, on Friday and on a previous occasion, to explain the government stand.

Government special pleader Pershad and Narasimha Goud apologised and informed the court he was scheduled to attend a government programme, the foundation-stone laying function for the Hyderabad Airport Metro line.

The bench was about to issue a non-bailable warrant on Aravind Kumar and to direct the Director General of Police to execute it, arrest the official and present him before the court. The court asked government counsel why Arvind Kumar did not file an exemption application. The court made it clear that if he defaulted on the next hearing., warrants would be issued to arrest him.

K.S. Sreenivasa Raju, secretary, department of tourism and culture, T.K. Sreedevi, secretary, finance. Lokesh Kumar, GHMC commissioner, B. Manohar Rao, MD (FAC), TSTDC, S. Bala Krishna, HMDA director, appeared before the court on Friday and were directed to appear along with the Chief Secretary.

Location: India, Telangana, Hyderabad


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