‘Hyderabad will submerge by 2050 if illegal construction regularised’: Telangana HC

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The Telangana High Court on Thursday, while hearing a petition against the implementation of Land Regularisation Scheme (LRS), said that the entire Hyderabad city would flood by 2050 if the government approves regularisation of illegal lands.  

The bench was hearing Public Interest Litigations (PILs) challenging Government Order 131 issued on August 31 for regularisation of unapproved and illegal layouts under the LRS-2020. These PILs were filed by the non-governmental organisation Forum for Good Governance, Congress MP Komatireddy Venkat Reddy, and others, who argued that the government’s decision to regularise illegal lands would encourage people to encroach prohibited lands. 

Referring to the recent floods in Hyderabad, which claimed several lives and destroyed many houses, the court said that the government’s contention that regularising lands was for “development” was incorrect.  “Surveys claimed that nearly 45% of Hyderabad city was submerged due to the recent torrential rains and 80% of water bodies disappeared in the city; and full-tank levels of all lakes were mushroomed with constructions — either approved or unapproved. If you allow them under the regularisation scheme, then by 2050, the whole Hyderabad will be flooded,” Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan said referring to the LRS-2020, according to Deccan Chronicle.

The court slammed the government saying that its actions appear to be in violation of the law. “The government's action itself appears to be violating the laws by implementing various LRS schemes every five years,” the bench comprising Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy, said, according to the The New Indian Express.

The court observed that the government was introducing the LRS scheme every five (LRS was introduced in 2008, 2015 and 2020) and asked the Advocate General of Telangana state if LRS implementation will deter unauthorised layout developers. The court reportedly asked if the violators will be bound to the law if the government itself approves their actions under the LRS and BRS (Building Regularisation Schemes).

Refusing to grant a stay on the LRS, the court asked Advocate General BS Prasad, appearing for the Telangana government, to file their counter affidavit. 

As the government asked for two weeks’ time to file their contention, the court issued notices to the Telangana Chief Secretary, Principal Secretaries of Municipal Administration and Panchayat Raj, and Commissioners of the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) and Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation to respond to the petitioners. The matter was posted for next hearing to November 12.

The LRS scheme was introduced earlier in September by Minister for Municipal Administration and Urban Development KT Rama Rao. The decision was made to address the finance deficit in the state’s treasury, and has been opposed by activists and opposition parties. Activists argue that the LRS violates various sections of the Telangana Urban Areas (Development) Act, 1975; Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) Act, 1955; Telangana Town Planning Act, 1920; State Municipalities Act, 2019; HMDA Act, 2008; and Telangana Panchayat Raj Act, 2018. 

Over 24 lakh residents filed applications under the Land Regularisation Scheme (LRS), which ended on October 31.