Telangana High Court comes down on State government for allowing construction on auctioned land in Kokapet in Hyderabad

Published : August 19, 2021 19:57 IST

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao. Photo: The Hindu Archives

The High Court of Telangana, on August 18, sought details of due diligence on inflow of drain water from buildings being planned on the 49.92 acres of land at Hyderabad’s Kokapet area that were recently auctioned by the government. A division bench of the Court comprising Chief Justice Hima Kohli and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy also directed the State to place before the court all relevant records related to the auctioned lands.

In July, the K. Chandrashekhar Rao government, through the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA), had carried out e-auctions netting Rs. 2,000 crore for the 49.92 acres of land. The Congress called the auction a scam, alleging that the lands were sold below market rates to cronies of the ruling dispensation. The State has so far collected Rs.700 crore out of the Rs. 2,000.

The court was hearing a petition seeking omission of a parcel of land in a village in Kokapet from the purview of GO 111, which prohibits any construction near Himayatsagar, Osmansagar and their catchment areas of 10 kilometre radius on the grounds that Kokapet lake would be polluted. K.Vivek Reddy, counsel for Agni Agrotech, a company seeking a waiver of GO 111, told the court: “Our land is not located within the catchment area, it should be subjected to same rules as the recently auctioned land in Kokapet. While we have been fighting for the last 20 years, government has permitted construction at Kokapet which is adjacent to our land.”

The court warned the HMDA authorities that if it was not satisfied, it would direct the authorities concerned not to permit any construction on the auctioned Kokapet lands. “We want to see the record to know where you applied your mind in assessing pollution before allowing Kokapet auctions. We will not allow a brick to be laid till you show us your application of mind,” the bench added.

As many as 80 villages fall under the purview of this Government Order and many from these villages are seeking relaxation for constructions.

The High Court asked the government about the preventive steps it had taken to stop the flow of sewage water into Kokapet tank and the twin reservoirs of Himayatsagar and Osmansagar and also sought to know how the State government could adopt different yardsticks for the land auctioned by the State and private land while allowing high-rise constructions. Stated the court: “You have been preventing private parties from construction near the twin reservoirs citing GO 111, but not following the same conditions for Kokapet land that was auctioned.” It came down heavily on the State’s counsel for his stand that Kokapet was not part of GO 111. The bench asked the State’s counsel if drain water would automatically stop flowing into Kokapet lake from lands auctioned just because the State considers it to be outside GO 111.

The court suggested that the government could deposit the amount garnered from the auction in an escrow account and, if necessary, should be ready to pay back the amount to the successful bidders who purchased the lands in the auction. The bench also questioned the government as to how the authorities could auction lands without following rules for the sake of money.