Replicas of Central Secretariat’s North Block and South Block on Raisina Hills in New Delhi will come up in Hyderabad too. The only difference is that in place of Rashtrapati Bhawan in between the two blocks, the Telangana Chief Minister’s block will be located with state-of-the-art facilities like a helipad and a conference hall to address the public. An estimated Rs 175 crore will be sanctioned for building the secretariat.
Distribution of departments will also follow the pattern found at North Block and South Block. All departments that have close interface with the public like education, health, roads and buildings, irrigation and agriculture will be in the North Block while South Block will have general administration, finance and planning. The blocks may be brick-red in colour.
The unique feature of the CM’s Block, which has been approved by Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao on Thursday, includes a vast conference hall, a helipad and a room from where video link with any part of the state can be organised. The intelligence (political) wing of police, currently located in the DGP office, will be set up inside the CM’s Block, sources told this newspaper.
KCR is keen on this ultramodern state secretariat, which is likely to surpass the proposed secretariat of Andhra Pradesh at its new capital Amaravati. Giving a hint of the ongoing competition between the Telangana and AP governments, Andhra Chief Minister N. Chandrababu Naidu wants to ensure the AP secretariat is completed by 2 June, exactly a year ahead of the completion of the Telangana secretariat.
KCR has constituted an official committee to construct a new secretariat in place of the existing one which is considered to be inauspicious as per Vaastu. The new secretariat was originally planned to be built on the sprawling 26-acre premises of the Government Chest Hospital at Erragadda in the city. But the proposal had to be dropped after opposition was raised by environmental groups citing the heritage value of the hospital.
Now the government wants to demolish the IAS Quarters at Era Manzil Colony and acquire some more surrounding land for the secretariat. The IAS officials will be provided an alternative land where quarters will be built by the government. Noted architect Hafiz Contractor from Mumbai has been entrusted with the task of constructing the new secretariat.
Officials who took part in the review meeting with the CM told this newspaper that the new secretariat will be the best secretariat of the country. “We are keeping in view the changing needs of governance like security aspects, public convenience and advent of digital technology while building it,” said a senior official of the Roads and Buildings Department.
“The new secretariat will have Vaastu compliance. All departments will have more air and light coming to them,” said Telangana Vaastu adviser Suddala Sudhakar. Sources said that both the blocks will be connected with the CM’s block through subways. Each block will have six storeys.
However, conservationists are opposing the building of a new secretariat. “The existing secretariat can be continued with minor changes. There is no need for a new one costing huge public money,” said M. Ved Kumar, president of the Forum for Better Hyderabad.
Environmentalists are more worried about the fate of the existing secretariat once a new one comes up. They are apprehensive of KCR’s plans to build several highrise buildings on the present secretariat premises, which will violate a Supreme Court ruling that new constructions cannot be permitted on the banks of Hussain Sagar Lake.
At the same time, others argue that a brand new secretariat will enhance the image of the new state. “If AP is constructing a world-class secretariat in Amaravarti, why cannot we? What’s wrong if we too have a spacious secretariat which can accommodate more vehicles with greater parking and other facilities?” asked TRS MLC Karne Prabhakar, while talking to this correspondent.
AP CM Chandrababu Naidu has laid the foundation stone for a new secretariat at Amaravati last week and has issued orders to his staff that they should vacate the present one in Hyderabad by June this year. If KCR shifts to a new secretariat, the present one built by the Nizams, with 60 acres of land and a dozen of multi-storeyed buildings, will face dilapidation.