NGT orders probe into farmhouse built by Telangana minister

The Asian Age.  | SA Ishaqui

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Southern bench of green tribunal orders constitution of a committee with central and state government officials

Telangana information technology minister K T Rama Rao

Hyderabad: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Friday ordered that a committee of central and state officials be set up to investigate whether or not a farmhouse reportedly owned by Telangana minister K T Rama Rao violates a zoning law meant to protect two important water bodies near Hyderabad.

 Rama Rao is a minister for information technology in the TRS government headed by his father K Chandrashekar Rao.

The two water bodies Himayatsagar and Osmansagar supply drinking water to Hyderabad and their catchment areas are protected from civil and commercial development by a government decree called GO 111.

The Chennai-based southern bench of the NGC issued notices to the state government and Rama Rao to respond to allegations that the farmhouse was built within the catchment area of the Osmansagar. The charges are contained in a petition filed by A Revanth Reddy, who is the state Congress working president.

The bench comprising Justice K. Ramakrishnan and expert member Saibal Das Gupta was dealing with an application moved by state Congress working president and MP A. Revanth Reddy.

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According to K. Sravan Kumar, counsel for Revanth Reddy, the bench directed that the investigating committee should comprise officials from the Telangana State Pollution Control Board, Union Ministry of Mnvironment, Forests and Climate Change, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) and the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Agency (HMDA) and officials of the lakes and water bodies department.

Sravan Kumar said that the bench had directed the committee to find out whether the construction was located in the prohibited biodiversity area and, if so, what measures were required for restoring the environment and how much environment compensation is to be collected.

The bench has directed the committee to conduct the inspection and submit a report within two months with its findings and suggestions.

The MP in his application had alleged that Rama Rao had built a luxury farmhouse with a swimming pool on 25 acres in the prohibited bio-conservation zone near Janwada village of Ranga Reddy district, which was obstructing the natural rainwater channel to Osmansagar.

He stated that the construction was illegal as it was in violation of GO 111 issued in 1996 in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh, banning construction and development activities in the catchment areas of Osmansagar and Himayatsagar.

GO 111 prohibits establishment of industries, hotels and residential complexes in a 10-km radius surrounding the Himayatsagar and Osmansagar to protect the catchment area.

He brought to the notice of the tribunal that in 2001, the Supreme Court had banned any kind of construction in the area while dealing with a petition on GO 111 that issued on March 3, 1996. In December 2018, the NGT South Zone had prohibited all construction and development activity in areas falling under GO 111.

While adjourning the matter to August 26, the bench issued notices to the state government, TS Pollution Control Board, GHMC, Hyderabad Metropolitan Water Supply and Sewerage Board, Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority, irrigation department, and Hyderabad lakes and water bodies management circle.

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