Demolition of under-construction office: YSRCP to initiate contempt proceedings against Andhra government

Former advocate general Ponnavulu Sudhakar Reddy said the YSRCP started constructing the building after the previous government had allotted about two acres on lease at the rate of ₹1,000 per acre a year.

ByRaj Rayasam

Published Jun 23, 2024 | 7:00 AM Updated Jun 23, 2024 | 1:41 PM

ysrcp office pulled down amaravati

The Opposition YSRCP in Andhra Pradesh has decided to initiate contempt proceedings against the Andhra Pradesh Capital Region Development Authority (APCRDA) for demolishing its under-construction office building at Tadepalli in the Guntur district.

The APCRDA and Managalagiri Tadepalli Municipal Corporation demolished the building on the illegally occupied land in the Seethanagaram boat yard compound early on Saturday, 22 June.

Speaking to reporters in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh’s former additional advocate general Ponnavulu Sudhakar Reddy said the YSRCP would also press criminal charges against those responsible for the demolition.  It would also legally claim civil damages from the APCRDA.

Reddy said the development authority bypassed Section 115 ( Power to require removal of unauthorized development) of the APCRDA Act, 2014, to raze the building despite assuring the high court to adhere to the law on Friday, 21 June.

The APCRDA pulled down the structure based on its preliminary order, which was not only illegal but also an infringement of the court’s direction, he said.

Related: TDP government pulls down under-construction YSRCP office building

Due process ignored

On the due process of law, Reddy said that the APCRDA should have issued a final order after scrutinising the YSRCP’s reply. Even after issuing the final order, the YSRCP should have provided time to approach the revenue tribunal.

If the tribunal stayed the demolition, the APCRDA could not touch the building until the case was disposed of.

Reddy said judgements have said that demolition of a building should be the last resort. The government, if satisfied that a building was constructed illegally, action should be initiated against the person constructing the structure and impose a fine on him.

The former advocate general said that the YSRCP had begun constructing the building after the previous government had allotted about two acres on lease at the rate of ₹1,000 per acre a year.

It was not against the rules, as the TDP which was in power between 2014 and 2019, issued a GO No: 340,(dated 21-7-2016) allowing leasing land to recognised political parties for the construction of office buildings.

Reddy wondered how only the leased land at Boat Club in Tadepalli had become illegal.

Also Read: Chandrababu Naidu keeps his vow, returns to AP Assembly as chief minister

The tale of Praja Vedika

When pointed out that the YSRCP had demolished Praja Vedika (Grievance Hall) in 2019, the former advocate general said he could “emphatically” say that the previous TDP government had constructed it illegally. However, Reddy added that he could not say whether the tearing down of the YSRCP office was a tit-for-tat reaction.

The Doctrine of Public Trust and the legislation in force prohibited the construction of any building in the catchment area of any river. The then YSRCP government began the demolition drive with Praja Vedika but could not move forward as the owners of other buildings upon the River Krishna obtained stay orders from courts.

Earlier on Saturday, the state government defended the demolition of the YSRCP office building. In a media statement, the government said that it had ordered the cancellation of the allotment of two acres to the YSRCP since no consent was taken from the Irrigation Department which owns the land.

The note said that the then-district collector, without obtaining consent from the Irrigation Department, had delegated the responsibility to Tadepalli tahsildar. He also did not take the Irrigation Department’s consent and transgressed his powers while handing over the land to YSRCP vide proceedings dated 31 March 2023.

The writ petition filed in the high court did not disclose if YSRCP possessed any permission or applying for it. Section 108 of the CRDA Act, 2014, mandated development permissions and added that any construction made without permission would be illegal.

Section 115 empowered the authority to remove such illegal constructions and the persons who made such illegal constructions were also liable for penal action under Section 114 of the act, which includes imprisonment of up to three years.

The media statement said that a show-cause notice was issued to the YSRCP on 10 June 2024. The party was asked to submit an explanation within seven days which lapsed by 17 June.

A reply mail was received on 20 June at 11.37 pm, which was beyond the time granted. In the exercise of sections 453(2), 461 (1) of the APMC Act and Section 115 (3) of the APRCRDA Act, 2014, the order was passed to demolish the building.

(Edited by Majnu Babu)

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