Hyderabad: Brushing aside objections by critics, Telangana Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao on Wednesday said he will go ahead with the construction of the new Secretariat and Assembly buildings in Secunderabad.

He told the Assembly that there was no proposal to withdraw plans to build the new complex on Bison Polo and Gymkhana grounds which will house the Secretariat, Assembly, Legislative Council, offices of all heads of departments and a cultural centre. He made it clear that the complex would be built at a cost of less than Rs 500 crore, satisfying all conditions laid down by the Supreme Court and the Defence Ministry.

Dismissing the criticism by the BJP, Rao claimed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi had praised the state government's plans. He said Modi would be invited to lay the foundation stone for the project. KCR, as Rao is widely known, said the work would begin once the Centre grants final permission to use the Bison Polo and Gymkhana grounds spread over 72 acres of land.

The government's plans are facing strong resistance from opposition parties, environmentalists, sportspersons and others concerned over the city losing a key lung space. Prominent residents of Secunderabad including former Director General of Police M.V. Bhaskara Rao, cricketer Vivek Jaisimha, sportsperson Turlpati Bharadwaj and squadron leader Anil Bhalla have challenged the move in the Hyderabad High Court.

The Centre informed the court in October that it had "in principle" agreed to transfer Bison Polo and Gymkhana grounds to Telangana but various procedures and formalities have to be fulfilled before the actual transfer. Some critics have flayed KCR for planning new building due to "bad vastu" of existing Secretariat, which houses the seat of governance. Vastu is an ancient system of architecture that KCR fervently subscribes to for wellness and success. KCR, however, told the Assembly that "vaastu" was not the only reason for going for a new building.

He claimed that among all the states in the country, the Secretariat of Telangana was the worst. He told Bharatiya Janata Party members that Modi as the Chief Minister of Gujarat had built a new Secretariat keeping in view the new requirements. The Chief Minister argued that the secretariat and Assembly should be symbols of state's pride. He contended that having the offices of all Ministers, Secretaries, heads of departments and also the Assembly with all the amenities will facilitate coordinated functioning of the government and help the people.

KCR said many fire accidents took place in the existing Secretariat and important files were gutted. He said the buildings were not constructed in compliance with regulations and safety standards. KCR also claimed that Bison Polo ground was not meant for sports but belonged to the military.

BJP leader K Laxman said KCR was misleading the House by stating that it was not sports ground. He questioned the need for a new Secretariat when the existing one was in good condition and sufficient to meet all the requirements.

IANS