VISAKHAPATNAM / VIJAYAWADA: In an ironic twist, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu is turning out to be the first victim of his capital announcement. Government offices, which are functioning from private premises in and around Vijayawada and Guntur cities, have been slapped with notices by the owners of the buildings either to cough up hiked rentals or vacate.
The move comes in the wake of sky-rocketing land rates and rentals in the region due to the government decision to make Vijayawada region the capital. Nearly 600 offices of 52 government departments, including central government offices, are functioning from private buildings in Krishna district including Vijayawada city. Several sub-registrar offices, commercial taxes department’s offices (16 circles), social welfare hostels, roads and buildings offices and guest houses, panchayat raj department offices, Anganwadi and others are being run from private premises.
Surprisingly, even major ones like the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) are functioning from private buildings. The situation is no different in Guntur district where over 400 offices of government departments are functioning from private premises. “No major government office building was constructed in the district in the last decade forcing the government to operate from private buildings by paying `5 per square feet in rural areas and `7 per square feet in Vijayawada and Guntur cities and other urban areas. The prices are fixed by the government as per prescribed norms and it is rare to find buildings where the owners are ready to compromise over rent,” said an official of the social welfare department in Krishna.
But things seem to have changed soon after the State government dropped enough hints over establishing the new capital between Vijayawada and Guntur. Sources said several private firms want to open offices in the cities and started scouting for affordable premises. “Many private firms want to either relocate from Hyderabad to Vijayawada/Guntur or at least open branch offices and are ready to pay anywhere between `25 and `40 per sft,” said Ch Krishna Sai, a real estate consultant from Mangalagiri area. Sources said a majority of building owners have already served notices to the government departments to vacate the premises, forcing the government officials to hunt for new office buildings. Interestingly, most of the buildings’ owners are political leaders including a few top leaders from the Telugu Desam and Congress.
“With all building owners increasing rents and asking us to revise the rents or vacate, we have informed the higher officials in Hyderabad. Simultaneously, we are also looking for office space. But it would be a difficult task to find new buildings as all building owners have increased the rents,” said a senior official in the revenue department.