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SHIFTING OF TELANGANA SECRETARIAT - CONTROVERSY
TR. Madhavan | 03 Feb 2015

Any Chief Minister shall have to come back to people after five years to seek votes. Does Mr. Rao believe that he will rule for forty years if vaastu is good?"

Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao has justified his government's decision to shift the Secretariat to TB Hospital land at Erragadda saying that the present premises has serious 'vaastu dosham'.

 

"That's the reason why no government has functioned smoothly from the existing premises and history is there for all to see," Mr. Rao said after the Cabinet meeting held here on Friday. Besides, it was being planned to be shifted for administrative ease by having the Secretariat and all offices of HoDs at one place.

 

It was highly inconvenient to people to go on searching for various HoDs' offices strewn across the city and the new complex would enable governance from one place. All the reasons put together, the decision to shift the Secretariat was taken, he explained.

 

The new buildings on the TB Hospital land would be constructed with Rs. 150 crore within a year and the hospital would be shifted to TB Sanatorium at Vikarabad in about 20 days.

 

Irrespective of shifting the Secretariat to TB Hospital land, the hospital would have been shifted out of the city anyway keeping in mind providing TB patients proper healing environment, the Chief Minister said.

 

When asked about the fate of existing Secretariat buildings and the land, Mr. Rao said the Cabinet would take a decision at an appropriate time.

 

Opposition parties went on the offensive, hitting out at Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao's announcement that he was planning to shift the Secretariat to TB and Chest Hospital as the 'vaastu' was not proper.

 

Reacting sharply to the announcements made by the Chief Minister on Friday after the Cabinet meeting, the Telangana Pradesh Congress Committee outright rejected the proposal to shift the Secretariat. At a press conference here on Saturday, Deputy CLP leader Md. Ali Shabbir and CLP secretary Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka described the move as "an attempt to execute the plans of land mafia to take control of prime properties in the State capital".

 

Mr. Shabbir alleged a hidden agenda behind the move and made it clear that the Telangana State exchequer and Secretariat were not the personal fiefdom of Mr. Chandrasekhar Rao. On 'vaastu', Mr. Shabbir said the present Chief Minister should realise that as many as 16 of his predecessors had functioned from the imposing buildings in the present Secretariat. He made it clear that the Congress would never allow the shifting of the Secretariat or the Chest Hospital from Erragadda at any cost.

 

BJP State president G. Kishan Reddy questioned the need for a new Secretariat. "When the AP government will shift its Secretariat after some years, where is the need for a new Secretariat?" he remarked.

 

Telangana TDP leader Revanth Reddy said Mr. Rao's fear of losing his post was the reason behind the decision. Dismissing the claim of Mr. Rao that the Secretariat had 'vaastu dosham', he said poor people, who were liberated from the rule of the Nizam, to those who had helped in the creation of Telangana State had benefited because of the building. He urged Mr. Rao to reconsider his decision.

Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao's decision to shift the Secretariat from its present location to the premises of the Government Chest Hospital at Erragadda has stirred up the hornet's nest.

 

The reason given was the 'wrong vaastu ' of the Secretariat. The opposition is up in arms ridiculing KCR for trying to waste public money for his personal predilections.

 

"Keep vaastu to your home and not apply it to the administration," remarked Congress deputy leader Mohd Ali Shabbir.

 

Unmindful of the vitriolic remarks against him from various quarters, Mr. Rao is going ahead with his plans to construct the new Secretariat complex at a whopping cost of Rs. 150 crore. What happens to the existing Secretariat building? There are no clear answers as Mr. Rao has reserved the decision for the Cabinet. In any case, an interesting debate has been kicked off on Erragadda as the next destination for the seat of power since the location is identified with the Institute of Mental Health!

Telangana Vidyavanthula Vedika (TVV) criticised the State government's decision to shift the Secretariat citing vaastu as the reason and requested the Chief Minister, K. Chandrasekhar Rao, to reconsider it.

 

Speakers at a meeting of the intellectuals' forum held here on Sunday suggested the State government that shifting of the Secretariat in the name of vaastu was not proper and it would be misusing the exchequer which would adversely impact the economic growth. Further, it suggested the government to appoint a committee on the shifting of the chest hospital and act according to its recommendations.

 

The meeting was attended by its president G. Ravinder Rao, honorary president M. Kodandaram, TVV steering committee chairman Mallepalli Laxmaiah, general secretary Thipparthi Yadaiah and executive members from all its district units.

 

BJP leader Nagam Janardhan Reddy has said that he would move courts, if necessary, to stop the shifting of Chest Diseases Hospital at Erragadda to Vikarabad for constructing the new Secretariat.

Addressing a press conference here on Sunday, he said the TB and Chest Diseases Hospital was converted into a general hospital through a GO issued in 1996 and outpatients were visiting it every day. The government should withdraw the GO first before taking any decision on shifting it.

 

He sought to know how the government would shift a people's asset unilaterally without their consent and felt there was no need to change the existing Secretariat. Instead, the government could make changes if it believed in vaastu , he suggested.

 

Academics and rationalist organisations in Telangana have reacted sharply to Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao's declaration that the State secretariat would be shifted to Erragadda for 'Vaastu' compliance.

 

'Hand it over to godmen'

"If vaastu is the basis for administration, you scrap such democracy, and hand it over to god-men. Telangana people fought for democracy, dignity, and self-rule, but now the struggle is lost to a feudal lord whose decisions the Cabinet approves without demur," fumes Sujatha Surepally, assistant professor from the Sathavahana University, who was active in the Telangana movement.

 

K.L. Kantha Rao from the Jana Vignana Vedika seeks to know if the 'Vaastu' is unfavourable to the Chief Minister or to the people.

 

"Any Chief Minister shall have to come back to people after five years to seek votes. Does Mr. Chandrasekhar Rao believe that he will rule for forty years if vaastu is good?" he questions.

 

'Vaastu Shastra' is unscientific and theorisations by different self-styled vaastu proponents are contradictory, says Mr. Kantha Rao, who has studied and written extensively on the subject.

 

President of the Jana Chaitanya Vedika V. Lakshman Reddy terms such "superstitious" decisions as detrimental to the constitutional spirit. It amounts to wasting public money in the name of unscientific beliefs, he says.

 

Bestowing contracts

Padmaja Shaw, Professor from Osmania University, finds the statement "offensive and objectionable" and says Mr. Rao was merely hiding behind vaastu whereas the real project was to bestow his relatives and friends with contracts.

Instead of being shifted, the chest hospital can be strengthened through better facilities and staffing, and developed into a general hospital to serve people beyond Erragadda, she says, and terms Mr. Chandrasekhar Rao's project as standard political ploy to kill public institutions.

Stepping up pressure on the TRS government to drop the idea of shifting Telangana Secretariat to TB and Chest Hospital, major opposition parties have threatened to launch an agitation.

 

On Monday, TDP and YSR Congress leaders visited the Chest Hospital and decried the Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao's decision. TDP leader M. Narasimhulu said the Chief Minister was trying to divert the attention of people from the poll promise and hence coming up with new ideas and decisions. "We will not allow the hospital to be shifted to Vikarabad to accommodate the new Secretariat," Telangana TDP president L. Ramana warned. Jubilee Hills MLA Maganti Gopinath said hundreds of patients frequented the hospital and it would cause untold misery to the poor patients and their attendants to travel to Vikarabad.

 

YSR Congress MP Ponguleti Srinivas Reddy along with party leaders staged a protest demonstration against the Government's decision. He said the party would agitate against the Government decision to shift Secretariat and the Chest Hospital to Vikarabad. Congress MLA T. Jeevan Reddy reminded the Chief Minister that it was the present Secretariat where the first meeting to discuss separate Telangana State was held.