Andhra Pradesh chief minister Y S Jaganmohan Reddy on Monday ordered demolition of a government building on a riverbed in Amaravati, constructed during the tenure of his predecessor N Chandrababu Naidu, saying it was built in "violation" of rules and "involved corruption".
The 'Praja Vedika' (grievance hall) was built by the AP Capital Region Development Authority on the Krishna riverbed near the residence of Naidu, the Telugu Desam Party president and the present Leader of the Opposition.
The order of Jagan effectively meant rejection of Naidu's plea to him earlier this month that the hall, used for official meetings in the previous regime, be declared as 'residence annex' of the Leader of Opposition.
The chief minister made the announcement in his inaugural speech at a two-day conference of district Collectors and Superintendents of Police that began Monday as the gathering of state ministers and top bureaucrats greeted it with applause.
"We have all assembled here, in this big, gigantic hall. These many collectors, secretaries, ministers and CM myself are sitting here. Is this building a legally valid building? In this, there are no rules. It is built in violation of rules, against the law and built with corruption," he said.
Jagan, who led his YSR Congress to a landslide win in the recent assembly elections, said the ongoing meeting will be last event to be held in the hall and the demolition would begin after the completion of the SPs' meeting on Tuesday.
"I am giving instructions, orders from the same hall. This will be the last meeting here in this hall. After completion of SPs meeting tomorrow, the first demolition will begin here. Lets live by an example. Lets start off here," he said, sending a strong message.
"The entire government machinery, right from the CM, is conducting its meeting in an illegal building. Knowing that it is illegal, we are conducting the meeting here," he noted.
The chief minister referred to a letter written by the Irrigation Krishna Central Division Executive Engineer before the construction of the building that it was not possible to issue clearance for it.
While the maximum flood level in river Krishna was 22.60 meters, the highest field level, where the building stood, was 19.50 mts, lower than the flood level, Jagan said.
"River Conservation Act was overruled, Lokayukta recommendations were overruled. Environment Protection Act, River Conservation Act, National Green Tribunal orders, Master Plan and building by-laws...government itself threw them to the winds," the chief minister added.
On the level of corruption, he said while tenders were invited for an estimated cost of Rs 5 crore, the cost was escalated to Rs 8.90 crore during execution.
Quoting from a report, he alleged that while two bidders participated in the tender, the second bidder was disqualified to ensure the other got the contract.
"To realise what kind of a system we are in and how to change it I said we will have this meeting here. Had some ordinary person built it, we would have gone and pulled it down. But, being in governmentbeing the chief minister we ourselves are flouting the rules," he said.
"If we ourselves flout the rules, tomorrow do we have the moral capacity or moral ground to go and tell somebody not to do this," the chief minister asked.
He told the bureaucrats to ask themselves this question and said,"When we are leading the state, we should become role models. We should live by example."