Builder's threat creates flutter at meet

HYDERABAD, JULY 12. Battered roads, choked drains and defunct streetlights are a passe. Now, a suicide note has crept into the "Face to face programme" with the City administration telecast live every Wednesday.

There was stunned silence during the programme when Mrs. Suryakumari, a resident of Ramnagar, called up to complain about threat of suicide being held out by one Saibaba, a builder. She had earlier complained about the unauthorised construction done by the builder in the cellar of the apartment. Now, he threatened to end his life and leave a suicide note implicating her if she continued to press the charges. "What should I do?", the woman wailed.

For a moment, the Roads and Buildings Minister, Mr. K. Vijayarama Rao, did not know how to handle the query. Then, the cop in him seemed to take over. He urged the builder, if he was watching the programme, not to take any drastic steps as it was not the solution.

Dr. G.S.G. Ayyangar, Additional Commissioner, Municipal Corporation of Hyderabad, informed Mrs. Suryakumari that the illegal construction in the cellar could not be demolished because of a court stay. Later, he told presspersons that the apartment in question had developed cracks all over and that expert opinion about its safety had been sought from the JNTU. Action would be taken as soon as the report was received.

There was another strange question. This one was posed by comedian `Iron leg' Sastry. "Sir, flats are being sold at Miyapur for Rs.2 lakhs. Is it safe to invest money there", he enquired of Mr. Vijayarama Rao. There was all round laughter. Mr. Rao said he did not know about that, but advised the actor not to purchase anything in a hurry. "Please wait. I'll find out for you," the Minister said.

Another caller, Mr. Janakiraman of Sankar Math, was peeved at the way he was spoken to by Dr. Ayyangar when he personally called on the officer. "I am a 75-year-old man and I am disappointed by Dr. Ayyangar's response", he said. The Minister sought to pacify the caller saying that he would instruct the official to be courteous.