On the orders of Chief Minister YS Jagan Mohan Reddy, Andhra Pradesh authorities demolished a government building located on the banks of river Krishna and adjacent to Telugu Desam Party head and former CM N Chandrababu Naidu’s residence in Undavalli, terming it as “illegally constructed” in the wee hours of June 26. While the Opposition condemned the move as highly authoritarian calling it as vendetta politics, Yuvajana Sramika Rythu Congress Party (YSRCP) leaders are claiming that it is just the beginning of the crackdown on illegal constructions.
A plea challenging the CM order was turned down by the state High Court on Tuesday.
Named as ‘Praja Vedika’, the building was constructed under the previous Telugu Desam Party led government by the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA), the nodal authority foreseeing the development and construction of the state capital Amaravathi. The building had been constructed at cost of around Rs 8 crore.
Earlier on June 5, Naidu wrote to the CM asking him to declare the 'Praja Vedika' as residence annexe of the leader of the opposition. “Post Assembly elections 2019, following the demitting of CM office, I have decided to retain the same private house, as per the agreed terms and condition of the private owner of the property. Since Praja Vedika is located beside my existing residence, I am planning it to retain it for official use,” he had said in the letter.
Before ordering for demolition of the building, the CM, during a conference with district collectors on Monday, said, “If a common man constructs a building without permission, it will be demolished by the officers. Our government respects the law and follows all the rules.” Later he hinted that Naidu’s current residence might also face such action. “We want to send out a clear message. We will not stop at this. This entire road will be cleansed,” he told the media while announcing his decision.
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TDP leader and former state finance Minister Yanamala Ramakrishnudu termed the move as a ‘Tughlaq act’, as the “building is intended for the benefit of the people”. “The present government was voted to power to build, not to destroy. Instead of focusing on constructing new buildings, Jagan is preferring demolition of the existing ones, which is not a fair act at all,’’ he said.
However, the move has attracted mixed reactions from several quarters.
According to E A S Sarma, a retired senior bureaucrat, the building was constructed giving a pass to several judgments and green tribunal orders. Sarma told media portal The News Minute that the irrigation department had pointed out that the maximum flood level of Krishna river is 22.6 metres, while the Praja Vedika was constructed at a height of 19.6 metres. Also, the building violated a previous National Green Tribunal order which banned any construction within a hundred metres of a riverbank.
Political analyst Telakapalli Ravi opined that Jagan’s order can be seen as a symbolic action. “Numerous villages and houses were forcefully demolished under the previous government for the construction of capital Amaravathi wherein hundreds of people suffered, while the government was questioned for violating regulations. This action (demolition) can be seen as a symbolic action by this government sending shock waves for those involved in any illegal activities,” he said.