University of Hyderabad in a tussle with local admin to save campus from encroachment

The university students have claimed that it is the members of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) party who are behind the illegal encroachment

Hyderabad: In yet another case of land encroachment on the University of Hyderabad campus, a 100 feet compound wall adjacent to the Indian School of Business, Gachibowli was demolished on the night of January 7, Thursday for the construction of a road for a new housing society.

The demolition of the wall met with criticism from the student bodies on campus and several students staged protests on campus on January 8, Friday.

The Telangana Police detained 11 students at the demolition site. One of the students arrested during the protest, Rohit Bondugula of Akhila Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) said that there was no prior notice given before the demolition and that this is a clear case of encroachment.

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UoH Students’ Union alleged that members of the ruling Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS) party were behind the illegal encroachment.

“The feudal TRS party and its goons are yet again on their spree to usurp university land. They have been trying this for a long time and the last attempt was on 21 October 2020 in the east part of the campus. At that time the students were successful in preventing the land grab. Yesterday, TRS party goons came again and brought the police to grab the east part of the university land,” the students’ union said in a statement released on January 7.

The union also wrote to the National Green Tribunal highlighting the dangers illegal encroachments could inflict on the ecology of the campus.

“We request you to please look into the issue and take necessary steps to ensure that the University of Hyderabad land is not encroached or occupied illegally. This will not only affect the future prospects of the development of the university but will also cause an irreversible damage to the ecology and biology inside the University of Hyderabad forest,” read the union’s letter to NGT.

Not the first time

This isn’t the first time an encroachment attempt is made on campus. According to various student bodies on campus, this has been happening since many years.

They allege that several attempts have been made by the housing society in the past to demolish university compound walls to construct a connecting road that goes through the university. According to them, a similar attempt was made in October last year. Prior to that, another attempt was made in February the same year, they allege.

The spokesperson of the university, Professor Vinod Pavarala, reiterating the same, said that this issue has been going on for years.

“The land practically belongs to the government, leased out to the university for a period of 99 years. But we cannot let it be taken away at any point without negotiations with the university,” he said.

He added that although the university administration has been in touch with the district administration and the state and central government authorities, the district administration had suddenly ordered the construction of the road. “This has now forced the University to approach the honorable High Court to intervene in the matter,” said Prof Pavarala.

Teachers’ association to form joint-action committee

In a statement, the University of Hyderabad Teachers Association (UHTA) condemned the illegal encroachment of the university land.

“There have been many struggles in the past by the university community to prevent the university land from being given away to other organizations. Keeping the vision of future growth of the university which provides affordable education to the society, it is the responsibility of the state government to protect the land from encroachment,” the UHTA said in a statement on Tuesday.

It also appealed to the chief minister of Telangana, K Chandrasekhar Rao to intervene in this matter.

The association condemned the arrests of students and demanded the withdrawal of all cases filed against them and urged the university administration to take all initiatives to prevent land grabbing on the campus.

The UHTA also stated that it will form a joint-action committee consisting of faculty, students, and non-teaching staff “in order to continue the struggle for the transfer of land to the university”.

VC meets governor

On January 9, the university vice-chancellor Professor Appa Rao Podile met Telangana governor Tamilisai Soundararajan and apprised her about the campus land issue.

In a tweet, the governor confirmed the meeting and wrote, “Professor Appa Rao, vice-chancellor, University of Hyderabad, met honourable governor at Rajbhavan on January 9 and submitted a memorandum on land issues in UoH.”

Telangana HC orders to maintain status quo

The UoH administration had filed a petition in the Telangana State High Court against the illegal construction of the road on the university land.

On Tuesday, the vacation bench of Telangana High Court heard the petition filed by the University and directed the authorities to uphold the status quo.

The interim order was passed by the justice Anhinand Kumar Shavili who stated that the status quo will not come in the way of the people using the road.

UoH argued in court that the authorities had not sought any permission for the proposal of construction of the road on the encroached land. In 2012, the UoH had contradicted the proposition of leaving behind its territory for the development of the road, and the same was communicated to the current authorities as well.

Regardless of this, the Collector had directed the tehsildar to hand over the actual ownership of the land to the GHMC for the road. This proposal was dropped after the varsity unequivocally protested it. Shockingly, the GHMC had, as of late, levelled the territory in spite of the land proceeding to be vested with the university.

The case has been adjourned for a week as the Special Counsel for the state argued that the road has already been laid and requested some time to file a counter-affidavit.

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