Andhra Pradesh

TDP Vizag office : Legal or illegal?

In a couple of days, the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC) will take a call on what action to take on the posh Telugu Desam office in the city. More than four years after it was reconstructed after the original structure collapsed in Cyclone Hudhud in October 2014, the GVMC has declared it an illegal structure. The municipal body has issued the TDP a show-cause notice, asking it to produce relevant documents by 5 July. 

The GVMC contention is that the party office located near Seven Hills is illegal because the TDP has not submitted proper documents to establish `title over the property’. The Town Planning Supervisor who issued the notice, accused the TDP of unauthorised construction of building floors. 

The TDP has dismissed the notice as an instance of political vendetta by the Jaganmohan Reddy government. In its reply, it has pointed out that 2000 square yards of vacant land was handed over to the TDP district unit in 2001. An amount of Rs 25000 was fixed as annual lease fee for 25 years and the TDP says it has been paying the amount every year. It also has furnished property tax receipts being paid since 2009 to the GVMC. The permit order in 2016 for construction of the building has also been presented. 

The bone of contention is that the GVMC claims the property belongs to one Rani Kamala Devi and wants the TDP to submit link documents to establish the title over the property. The TDP on the other hand, says the property belongs to the Andhra Pradesh government from who the party has taken the land on lease. 

While the government will decide if the TDP reply is satisfactory or not and in all likelihood, legal recourse will be taken, the more important question is why did the GVMC wake up now. This NTR Bhavan in Vizag has been in existence for some years now so if they deemed the building to be illegal, why is it that the learned officials did not think of demanding the title documents before. 

The fact that it is being done now obviously opens it to the charge of being done at the behest of their new political bosses. More so since it comes within days of a notice issued to the landlord of the house where Naidu lives in Undavalli and the adjoining Praja Vedika being demolished.

The problem is not so much with either the TDP allegedly bending rules to suit its own purpose or the YSRCP using its power to settle scores. The bigger worry should be how a government agency troubles you or looks the other way depending on what orders it gets from the top.

If there was something genuinely wrong with the TDP office permissions, a show cause notice ought to have been issued when Chandrababu Naidu was CM. The fact that it was not, shows the officials were okay with alleged building irregularities under their nose, because the then political boss approved of it. One can be reasonably certain no notice would have been issued if Naidu had returned to power as CM. 

What this episode shows is that justice dispensed by the government is politically coated. Those in power can afford to get away with just about anything as the system is more than willing to let itself get managed.  

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