No consensus on Hyderabad Metro Rail realignment in old city

हेदराबाद Hyderabad: Consensus among political parties at the all-party meeting convened by chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao on Monday on various issues remained elusive with the opposition parties registering their dissent over the government’s proposal to regularize over 6,000 acres of encroached government land in Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy districts, and to realign the Hyderabad Metro Rail project in Old City along with two other proposed realignments.

The five-hour long meeting, held at the Secretariat, also failed to build consensus on the proposal to construct Vinayak Sagar at Indira Park for Ganesh idol immersion with the BJP insisting that the massive immersion ritual be continued at Hussainsagar and Congress expressing apprehension about the practicality of the proposal.

However, the chief minister’s office said the meeting was successful as the parties welcomed the government’s efforts to build consensus on the contentious issues. A release issued by the CMO said the chief minister had called for another all-party meeting on December 16 to carry forward the consultation process.

“All the details of the encroached land would be given to the political parties by Thursday and the chief minister appealed to them to come up with their views for the December 16 meeting,” said the release.

Claiming that the parties unanimously approved the proposed change of metro line near the assembly building and Sultan Bazar area, the release said the change of route in the Old City would be again discussed on December 16.

However, the Congress, BJP, TDP, and the Left parties disputed the government’s claim that they had agreed to the proposals in their present form, including metro rail realignment, Vinayak Sagar, and regularization of encroached vacant land.

“We never said we have agreed to the proposed realignment of the metro line near assembly building, Sultan Bazar area, and the Old City. We have made it clear that the TRS cannot expect our support for its politically motivated moves. But, on the other hand, we asked to furnish the details of the proposal and then discuss it,” said Congress MLA Mallu Bhatti Vikramarka, who attended the meeting along with his party colleagues K R Suresh Reddy and Niranjan.  Former Speaker Suresh Reddy said, “The government had no information about the Metro Rail alignment in old city. When even the survey is not done, how can we discuss the issue?”

While the BJP-TDP combine demanded that the government call a separate meeting of the city MLAs and MPs to discuss the metro realignment issue, the Left parties said people of the Old City must be engaged and any proposal must be in their interest.

The MIM, however, rooted for the government’s stand on the metro issue stating that the proposed realignment in the Old City would save many religious structures including temples, dargahs, and ashoor khanas apart from providing better connectivity to the Old City.

“It has been our stand all along that the metro alignment must be changed in the Old City, and we welcome the government’s proposal,” said Akbaruddin Owaisi, MIM floor leader in the assembly. Malakpet MLA Ahmad Balala and MLC Syed Amin Jafri also represented the MIM at the meeting.  He further said that “the proposed Metro route is longer, but the original route affected 126 properties, 40 mosques, 11 ashoorkhanas and 10 temples. This new route will help the old city.”

The BJP was distinctly vocal when it opposed proposal to change the venue of the Ganesh immersion from Hussainsagar to the proposed Vinayak Sagar.

“We vehemently oppose any attempt the shift the venue of Ganesh immersion from Hussainsagar as the proposed Vinayak Sagar will not be sufficient in its size to cater to the needs of the huge immersion programme,” said G Kishan Reddy, Telangana BJP president, who represented his party along with Musheerabad MLA K Laxman.

Kishan Reddy suggested the government to bring in regulations to restrict the size of the Ganesh idols while making them eco-friendly.

The Congress said the Vinayak Sagar was not advisable as the party felt the approach roads to Indira Park were not as wide as those linking the Hussainsagar.

Regarding regularization of encroached land, the opposition parties were unanimous as far as issuing pattas to the poor who have built houses on the government land. But, they opposed the move to regularize the vacant land illegally occupied by the rich.

“We support the proposal to regularize the lands up to 180 yards which have been occupied by the poor to build houses. In fact we demand the government to issue them pattas free of cost,” said Chada Venkat Reddy, state secretary of CPI.

“However, the move to regularize the vacant land by charging penalty leads to scams. And we vehemently oppose any such move and instead of regularizing, the government should take back the encroached land,” Venkat Reddy added. He was accompanied by Left party leaders R Ravindra Kumar (CPI) and Sunnam Rajaih (CPM).

TDP floor leader in the assembly Erraballi Dayakar Rao said the opposition parties have demanded the government to provide the details of the encroached land in Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy before the next all-party meeting. And he said the parties called for stringent laws to prevent further encroachments.

The new proposed route will affect only two structures and also make the Government Maternity Hospital and Nehru Zoological Park accessible.