People cheer removal of barricades in front of Pragathi Bhavan in Hyderabad

people cheer removal of barricades in front of pragathi bhavan in hyderabad

People cheer removal of barricades in front of Pragathi Bhavan in Hyderabad

As the iron barricades on the Begumpet road in front of the Pragathi Bhavan were removed by civic officials on Thursday hours before the swearing-in ceremony, a section of the commuters cheered loudly.

Pragathi Bhavan, the residence-cum-camp office of K Chandrasekhar Rao, was built at the cost of Rs 45.91 crore in 2016-17. The iron barricades had become a symbol of the distant and aloof style of governance of KCR which the Congress had sneered at as Doralu (feudal) when it promised a more people-oriented government.

True to his words and the Congress manifesto, which promised to resume the Praja Darbar that had been initiated by YS Rajasekhar Reddy during his tenure, the newly sworn-in chief minister Revanth Reddy announced that Pragathi Bhavan will be the venue of Praja Durbar on Friday. He also renamed the Pragathi Bhavan after Jyothirao Phule.

BRS leader Krishank chose to point out on social media “It’s the Congress who built it (fencing) and it’s the Congress which is removing it.” However, the barricades during the BRS reign had turned Pragathi Bhavan into an iron fortress, and no one, even ministers and officials was permitted without prior approval.

The removal of the iron barricades was symbolic, akin to the demolition of the Berlin Wall, this time between the ruler and his people. Hailing the move, RTI activist Robin Zaccheus said: “Rs 50 crore of taxpayers’ money spent for his luxury… finally returned to the public.”

While it was YS Rajasekhar Reddy who had initiated the Praja Durbar at the chief minister’s residence and camp office at Begumpet and continued by his successors K Rosaiah and N Kiran Kumar Reddy, it was KCR who demolished an adjoining heritage colonial-era bungalow which housed the IAS Association’s Club to build the palatial Pragathi Bhavan.

The public outcry and a petition in the High Court were disregarded and the government counsel informed the court that the beautiful colonial-era building had already been razed to the ground. Several IAS officers’ quarters and peons’ quarters in the Officers’ Colony were razed to make way for the Pragathi Bhavan which comprised the chief minister’s residence, his office, a meeting hall, the old chief minister’s residence and camp office, built on roughly nine acres of land.

The government under KCR demolished one heritage building after another, including Saifabad Palace and Warangal Jail and the threatened Osmania Hospital and Errum Manzil, though he promised to make Hyderabad another Istanbul, preserving history while developing the city. Anuradha Reddy, convenor of INTACH said, “I hope this government will respect and restore heritage buildings and not demolish them.”

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