HYDERABAD: In a setback to the Telangana government, a division bench of the High Court on Friday directed it to stop the demolition of the old Secretariat buildings till Monday. The bench directed the government to file a counter affidavit, furnish a waste management plan for the demolition and submit the permission taken from the local authority concerned (GHMC) for the plan. Any citizen has the right to raise questions challenging the action of the State, if he/she is of the opinion that it violates the law, it observed.
According to media reports, the demolition would be completed in seven days, and three days have already gone by. Certain religious structures on the Secretariat premises have also been damaged, and in another four days the entire Secretariat would be razed, the bench said. Comprising Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy, the bench passed the interim order in a PIL filed by Prof PL Vishweshwar Rao, vice-president of Telangana Jana Samithi. The order was also passed in another PIL, which alleged that the demolition violates the Disaster Management Act, 2005, Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016, Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, Environment Protection Act, 1986 and various judgements of the Supreme Court and High Court.
The petitioners’ counsel, Chikkudu Prabhakar, contended that the Construction and Demolition Waste Management Rules, 2016 contain an elaborate procedure dealing with demolition waste. Rule 4(3) of the Rules of 2016 stipulates that the waste generators, who generate more than 20 tonnes in one day or 300 tonnes per project in a month, shall segregate the waste into different streams — concrete, soil, steel, wood and plastics, and bricks and mortar.
They should also submit a waste management plan and get appropriate approvals from the local authority before starting construction, demolition or remodelling work, and keep the authorities concerned informed about the relevant activities from the planning stage to the implementation stage. This would be on a project-to-project basis, he said.
Though the demolition commenced four days ago, no waste management plan was ever submitted to the local authority, Prabhakar argued. Also, no approval was given by the latter for the demolition. Therefore, the demolition is in violation of the rules, he said.
Advocate General BS Prasad asked for some time to seek instructions from the authorities as to whether any waste management plan was submitted to them, and if such an approval was given by the local authority or not.
To this, the bench said prima facie, the current demolition is in violation of the rules since it is unclear, at the moment, if any waste management plan was ever submitted and an approval exists or not. Therefore, the State is directed to stop the demolition forthwith till the adherence to Rule 4(3) of the Rules of 2016 is established. The bench made it clear that the stay order would continue till the next date of hearing, until and unless the State satisfies the court that such an approval was taken. It posted the matter to July 13.