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Pandemic and Construction of Secretariat , Creation of New Districts

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Dhone (Indian Railways)It is attributed to the President Dr Rajendra Prasad: “Religious structures and historical monuments shall not be viewed through their age or life span, but their antiquity; they shall not be measured in terms of length and width, but spirituality; shall not be counted and weighed in terms of  bricks and stones and mortars, but in the parameter of the hoary past.”
One such monument was the cluster of Buildings of the secretariat of Telangana in Hyderabad.  It was a relic of the Nizams’. Constructed as a Palace, finding it inauspicious,  it was converted into an Administrative Centre. By this time its History is well known to the readers.  It was witness to several changes in the regimes. From the Nizam’s Hyderabad to Independent India’s Rajapramukh’s Hyderabad.  (After the Nizam signed the Instruments of Accession in September 1948,  he was designated Rajpramukh, the Constitutional head of the Province.) From 1948 to 1952 M.K.Vellodi was the Chief Minister and after the first General Elections in 1952,  Burugula Ramakrishna Rao became the Chief Minister.  There was a drastic change in the political map of India on November, 1,1956. States were reorganized on Linguist basis. The Telugu speaking areas were amalgamated to form Andhra Pradesh state. In fact, Andhra Capital was Shifted from Kurnool as a ready-made infrastructure was available in Hyderabad, the chosen Capital.  It was considered a historic moment.
With Neelam Sanjeev Reddy assuming charge as Chief Minister,  the administrative system in the Secretariat has undergone a complete change. With certain reservations, the Hyderabad system was given a go by and the Madras system adopted. From Sanjeev Reddy to Kiran Kumar Reddy, 16 Chief Ministers had administered from the Secretariat. Either due to the old age of Buildings or the paucity of space,  certain changes had to be made in the Secretariat buildings.
This time, citing that they are dilapidated,  the entire Secretariat is proposed to be razed to the ground and new structures raised. “Destruction for Construction” was the engineering slogan of G.D.Naidu, one of the architects of the Industrial City, Coimbatore.
They were planned and designed as such, with iron and steel angulars and nuts and bolts. It is only dismantling and re-erection. Hyderabad Secretariat was modelled as a permanent structure for generations.  However, it is being widely discussed that the main reason was VASTHU.
Telangana secretariat
A flashback: Andhra State was proposed to be inaugurated at Kurnool on 1st, October 1953. All arrangements were made. The Prime Minister,  Nehru was scheduled to inaugurate the State. A feeler was sent the Chief Minister-designate, Prakasam Pantulu, either to pre-pone or postpone the date, as Oct 1, was inauspicious to him, as per stars and horoscope. Such a move would create thousands of problems.
Prakasam roared: “Supposing the State is inaugurated on a date, unanimously agreed by all the Astrologers, will you assure me Chief Ministership for life?” Inauguration went on. It is a different matter that his ministry fell in 13 months. Thenneti Vishvanatham, the minister for Finance, Law and Parliamentary Affairs carried and submitted the resignation letter to the Governor. Prakasam, in true democratic spirit, gave up the govt car and got into a cycle rickshaw to go home.
Again he roared: I am Andhra Kesari.  Lion does neither eat grass nor stale food.  The DMK Govt in Tamilnadu, led by M.Karunanidhi in 2010 moved the seat power from the more than 350 years of Fort St George to a new building. In 2014 Jayalalithaa moved back to the original site and converted the new building into a super Speciality Hospital and a Medical College.
In the instant case of the Telangana Secretariat, the High Court has cleared the demolition.  What is legally valid may not be politically viable and ethically acceptable. The majoritarian thumb rule is not the only criteria in a democratic setup. Only the despotic invaders destroyed the Monuments,  selectively.
Successive Kings and Emperors,  only altered the Palaces to suit their convenience and taste. Supposing, in future, the astrologers advise that  KCR’s Farmhouse at Erravalli, about 60 km away from the secretariat is the most suited to KCR or KTR, will the Secretariat be shifted to the Farmhouse and expand its area.
In almost every western country, Presidential and Kings’ Palaces, Parliament Houses, and the Prime Ministerial Bungalows are periodically renovated to avoid damage and keep in tune with the marching times. E.g. Downing Street is a street in central London, where official residence and offices of Prime Minister and the chancellor of exchequer are located. Situated off Whitehall a few minutes’ walks from the Parliament, Downing Street was built in the 1680s by Sir George Downing.  For more than three hundred years, it has held the official residences of both the First Lord of the Treasury, the office of the PM, the office held by the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
When Rome was burning Nero was Fiddling 
When the whole world is entangled in COVID-19, what is the urgency? The proposal is not a sudden one. It has been in circulation ever since KCR bounced back to power in 2018. It is fishing in the troubled water.  When the mobility is restricted, public agitation, either by the opposition or the non-partisan, and non-political organizations cannot muster the strength to demonstrate on the streets. So timing is undemocratic.
Osmani Hospital (Credits: Deccan Chronicle)
Their allegations are not totally unfounded: the number of COVID patients is increasing at an alarming rate; drainage water flooded the Osmania General Hospital;  medical and paramedical staff in Gandhi Hospital are up in arms, protesting the unfavourable atmosphere and unscrupulous service conditions.
The Hindu, on July 22, 2020, reported: “Cumulative Test Positivity Rate (of COVID -19) in India is 8.03%, while that of Telangana,  as on July,  20, 2020 stood at 16.75%. Another report in the same issue: “Osmania General Hospital Doctors begin 1-hour-a-day stir demanding new Building. Protest to intensify if the Government does not respond favourably.” “Unattended bodies in casualty ward traumatize patients  – Insufficient patient care providers at Gandhi Hospital delays disposal.” “Misgivings about Osmania General Hospital fate – Heritage lovers upset over demand for its demolition.” (The Hindu, Hyderabad, 23rd, July 23,  2020).
This is neither the trade union movement nor publicity interested.  It is also ironic that a good number of Doctors whose presence,  with white Coat and Stethoscope and holding Medical kits and prescription pads are an utmost necessity in the Hospital Wards,  are compelled to roam around the Advocates’ Offices and the corridors of the Courts, with Coffee Coloured Suits and files in their arms. “Health is the greatest gift; Contentment,  the greatest wealth; The faithfulness,  the best relationship.” Buddha.
KCR is not alone in such misadventures. It is alleged in some quarters that the C.M. of A.P. Jagan Mohan Reddy emulates KCR in many respects. Jagan is planning to take undue advantage of the situation at least in two matters; trifurcating the Capital and creation of new Districts. Though both the proposals are not fresh, timing is questionable. While in principle there is little opposition to form 12 more Districts,  the proposed “On par with the Parliamentary Constituencies ” is unscientific, irrational and unacceptable to a considerable portion of the affected population.
Dhone (Indian Railwayinfo)
Delimitation of the Assembly and Parliamentary Constituencies has been a successful failure.  Confusion prevails after every delimitation.  For example, take the case of Kurnool district,  which has to its credit the second-highest number  COVID positives 9615 and deaths 150 in the State as on 9.00 a.m on 24th, July 2020. There were 13 Assembly Constituencies and two Parliamentary Constituencies, Kurnool and Nandyal.  Giddalur Assembly Assembly Constituency from Prakasam District was in Nandyal Parliamentary Constituency. During the 2008 Delimitation based on the 2001 census, Mantralayam an extra constituency was created and added to Kurnool Parliamentary Constituency.
Dhone was deleted from Kurnool and added to Nandyal to make up the loss of Giddalur which was added to Ongole.
There is a drastic irrationality in the delimitation of the Assembly Constituencies. For the purpose of this article,  I quote only two segments, Dhone and Panyam. Panyam is just 15 km from Nandyal and 60 km from Kurnool. 14 Wards in Kurnool Municipal Corporation and the surrounding villages in Kalluru mandalam, some beyond Kurnool in Adoni Road are added to Panyam Assembly and Nandyal Parliamentary Constituencies.
Amaravati
If the proposed district is created as per the plans, people in the villages abutting Kurnool have to travel to Nandyal, about 80 km through Kurnool City, changing a bus at Kurnool.  Reverting to Dhone, more than half the constituency is on on the National Highway No.44. Dhone and Peapully mandalams are in Kurnool Revenue Division ever since the Kurnool District was formed in 1858. Now they may have to be reallocated to Nandyal Revenue Division or a new Revenue Division created. The distance from Peapully and Dhone to Kurnool it is 80 km and 50 km , respectively on National Highway. From Peapully and Dhone to Nandyal, it is 80 and 100 km respectively and road connectivity is bad. Of course, there is direct Rail link. But it must suit the time and convenience.
In passing, Mahanandi is 150 km from Srisailam. Both are clubbed in Srisailam Constituency and the journey is through Nandyal. Mahanandi is hardly 10 km from Nandyal.  Again Srisailam is in Kurnool Revenue Division since 1858. It has to be disturbed.  Of course, after the reorganization of the Districts, some minor adjustments in the Revenue Divisions and Mandals are imminent.
But as per the present plans, there will be a sea change, dislocating and disturbing the existing setup. Therefore the best course is to fix the Parliamentary Headquarters as the District headquarters and carve out new Districts keeping in mind the Revenue Divisions and mandalams as a unit. There shall be no bifurcation of mandalams.
At this juncture, the administrative machinery shall be free, with undiverted attention left exclusively to deal with the pandemic. As the confusion prevails all over the state, there is a widespread agitation all over the state against the proposal of creation of new districts at this juncture and demand the postponement of both the shifting of the Capital and the creation of the Districts.
It is relevant to quote here that the delimitation is a routine, once in 15 years, and a Constitutional Mandate. And elections are held once in 5 years. The Administrative units, District,  Division and Mandals cater to the daily needs of the people are. District and Sessions Courts all over the country are also established in conformity with the Revenue Districts. Instead of ‘Carrying Justice to the doors of the litigants, they are tossed from pillar to post.’
“Delimitation of the Constituencies is illogical, that even on a population basis, it varies from 1,84,794 in Srisailam to 2,88,031 in Nandyal Parliamentary Constituency and 1,87,011 in Mantralayam to 2,58,815 in Kurnool Parliamentary Constituency. Even in Parliamentary Constituency Nandyal has an electorate of 15,76,945 and 13,55, 805 in Kurnool. Certain Mandals like Kosigi, Holagunda, Kowthalam remain more than 100 km away from the District Headquarters, Kurnool. Hence the demand for trifurcation of Kurnool as Nandyal, Kurnool and Adoni are justified. If this much confusion prevails in one District, imagine the fate of the whole state. Hence the urge for favourable conditions is restored to think, plan and design in a cool and serene atmosphere. “
All these,  reconstruction of the Secretariat,  Shifting of Capital and Creation of Districts can wait; but the Pandemic will not.
In the Middle Ages, in India when the Sultans and Badshahs, Kings and Emperors and Rulers and His Highnesses were busy in the construction of Monuments and Memorials and destruction of places of Worship & Learning, and capturing forts and bastions, while England was engaged in moulding Oxford and Cambridge. The rest was history.
“To handle yourself, use your head. To handle others  use your heart.”
KC Kalkura
(KC Kalkura is an advocate from Kurnool, Andhra Pradesh. Ph.9440292979. mail id:kalkurakurnool@gmail.com)