CIB constructed the High Court of Hyderabad by drawing elements from both Rajput and Islamic architecture to create a distinct architectural style | file photo
HYDERABAD: Before GHMC, HMWSSB, TSHB or even the erstwhile APHB, there was a City Improvement Board (CIB) during the Nizam era. Formed after the plague of 1911, the CIB undertook complete reshaping of the city with slums giving way to housing complexes and gardens.
A recently-released study titled “Back into the Future: The City Improvement Board of Hyderabad” by conservation architect Anuradha S Naik highlights CIB’s contribution to the city and how it changed the city’s skyline and lives of thousands of its residents during 45 years of its existence.
The most important work that the CIB embarked upon, the study mentions, was the clearance of slums and rehousing of people across the city. The project was necessitated after renowned engineer and statesman Mokshagundam Visvesvaraya highlighted in a report that while development of Hyderabad was necessary, “it would not be right to ignore the artistic, economic and sanitary considerations associated with the (development) proposals.”
It all began in Nampally
The scheme was first started in Nampally, where the plague struck first. “The CIB acquired any adjoining open lands including reclaimed land from tanks, agricultural tracts in the city and part of the Sarfe-Khas (crown lands), where possible,” nots the study. Modern day localities like Malakpet, Mallepally and Azampura were built by the CIB in these acquired lands.
It was not just about individual homes, the CIB wanted to construct well-knit communities. “The need for the outdoors, fresh-air, playgrounds and parks was recognised and every planned locality had considerable space for children. Public health care, particularly that of children, was paramount and infant welfare centres were set up in the old city,” the study says.
In 1937, CIB observed that slum dwellers evicted for the housing scheme were constructing fresh slums in open localities. To check this tendency, the CIB decided to construct low-rental sanitary houses for these people, a CIB report from 1937 mentions.
The CIB retained pucca houses, used its infrastructure and amenities to develop upon the kutchha houses. It was mandated that only 60 per cent of the acquired land be used for housing. On each plot, it translated to building only on two-thirds of the plot. The remaining space was earmarked for promotion of health. Thus, the remaining 40 per cent land, the study says, was used to build roads, playgrounds and open spaces (maidan).
Inception of the Hyderabadi home
Most old Hyderabadi homes have a courtyard and gardens. This style also finds roots in the CIB’s construction model for individual houses. “The individual units themselves were constructed in the traditional Indian style, complete with a courtyard and fruit trees, separate mardana and zenana entrances, for male and female family members and visitors,” the study says.
Propelled by the success in Nampally, the scheme was extended to other areas. Open grounds, marshlands and farmlands around the Afzal Sagar tank were taken over to create Mallepally. Here, the study notes, the concept of Hyderabadi home was take a step further.