HYDERABAD: About 1,360 staff quarters at Nagarjuna Sagar dam, built way back in the 1950s, have now become an irresistible attraction for those in power, with land value skyrocketing following a decision to develop NSP into a major tourism centre with projects like Budhavanam.
Though the quarters are in a dilapidated condition, the land that each quarter occupies, had appreciated over the years. The value of some quarters, according to unofficial estimates, is about Rs 30 lakh apiece.
Though the guidelines lay down that the quarters have to be allotted to the Irrigation Department staff, some are being given out to politicians, who let them out to others but continue to keep them under their control.
According to social activist Jalagam Sudheer, TRS top shots Gutha Sukhender Reddy and K Keshava Rao, and Congress leader K Jana Reddy are in possession of one quarter each.
NRIs too involved
There were also instances of NRIs being given quarters for setting up trusts. "A trust is meant to serve people and not to take benefits from the government," he said, adding that NRIs get allotments in return for supporting the ruling party.
As there is a buzz that ownership rights might be given to those who are living in these quarters, there seems to be a mad race now to possess them.
Some politicians are using their influence to get the quarters allotted to them and ask their benamis to stay there so that they would not miss out on ownership of the quarters, whenever the rights are conferred.
Social activist urges government to remove encroachers from NSP quarters
Sudheer, referring to how even legal tussles are becoming a commonplace, recalled one local TRS leader, G Ravinder Reddy going to the court after the government cancelled allotment to him and gave it to another leader T Ravinder Rao after the ruling party allegedly found that the former was being pally with the Congress in the recent byelection.
The petitioner’s contention was that the leader to whom allotment was given hailed from a district outside Nalgonda. Officially no one is the owner, but the legal battle makes one wonder if the occupants of quarters automatically become owners.
Said a senior Irrigation Department official: "Some time ago, it is said that the Chief Minister had made a promise that the quarters would be given to those who are living in them. But there is no move in that direction yet."
As the Irrigation Department is finding it difficult to maintain the quarters, the government recently issued a GO asking the department to hand them over to the Revenue Department.
"There is no progress on this front either. The Revenue Department, after taking possession of the quarters, would have to hand them over to Nandikonda Municipality for providing basic amenities like water supply. Then only they could be put to use like developing them and renting them out to visitors to Nagarjuna Sagar Project," the official said.
According to him, after bifurcation, Telangana got about 1,362 quarters of which 260 have been allotted to the staff and they continue to occupy them.
The remaining quarters are proposed to be taken over by the government for developing them which are now in contention. On Wednesday, Jalagam Sudheer took to Twitter and requested Minister KT Rama Rao to initiate action against those who have encroached the quarters.
He tweeted: "KTRTRS Anna, considering the importance of protecting the national project Nagarjuna Sagar Dam, kindly take action on encroachers to save valuable govt land which can help the real beneficiaries and Sagar Tourism Development Projects (sic)."
In a statement later, Sudheer said there was also a threat to the security of the dam because no one knows who is staying in these quarters. The government should take enough care to ensure that genuine beneficiaries should get ownership rights of the quarters, should the government decide so.
He urged the Chief Minister to make the politicians vacate the quarters which are under their occupation. After allotment to genuine beneficiaries, the remaining quarters should be developed into cottages for stay for those who visit Nagarjuna Sagar, he said.