New Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman would be issuing her first order transferring 38 acres of land belonging to the Ministry of Defence to the Telangana government in the next few days as part of Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao’s (KCR’s) long pending demand for land to construct a brand new State Secretariat here. This land at Bison Polo Grounds is in the busy Secunderabad Cantonment area.

Sources close to the Chief Minister said that the PM’s move was in acknowledgement of KCR’s unconditional support to BJP candidates in the recent President and Vice-President elections.

KCR called on Finance Minister Arun Jaitley who was still the Defence Minister on Monday morning. Jaitley told the Chief Minister that the PM had decided to accord permission to the request, but a formal order transferring the land would be issued by new Defence Minister.

Sources said that there was stiff resistance from defence officers for the transfer of 38 acres of land to the state as the area runs next to the national highway connecting Mumbai to Vijayawada on one side and Nagpur on the other side. Initially, the state had offered only equal extent of land in lieu of the Bison Polo Grounds, once occupied by the British military personnel.

Army officials in the Cantonment area were not pleased with the TRS government’s request for the Bison Polo Grounds as it came on the heels of the government’s move to celebrate Independence Day in the Army area at Golconda Fort, on the city outskirts. The CM faced great difficulty to get permission from the Ministry of Defence to hoist the Tricolour. Only recently, the PMO has forwarded the CM’s plea to the Ministry of Defence with a suggestion that the matter be sorted out amicably, according to sources in the CMO here. The state has offered a new deal and the Army has agreed to it. Now, Telangana will offer 518 acres of land near the city to the Army, besides an amount of Rs 90 crore in cash. The land is identified at 40 km from Vikarabad, on the west of Hyderabad so that defence personnel can use it for parade and training purposes.

Once the state government presents alternative land details to the Ministry of Defence, Sitharaman would be issuing orders allotting Bison Polo Grounds to Telangana, sources in the CMO said.  “This proposed Secretariat at Bison Polo Grounds will have all modern facilities and provisions for the hi-tech administration,” Telangana Roads and Buildings Minister T. Nageswara Rao told The Sunday Guardian.

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