HYDERABAD: Despite the apparent might of the Central government, its main central agency responsible for conservation and preservation of heritage in the country, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), is seemingly eager to hand over 15 acre of protected land in Naya Qila near Golconda Fort to the State government due to lack of manpower to guard the area.
This 15-acre land which houses the Qutub Shahi Bagh and chabutra is in the process of being handed over to the State government so that the golf course that lies adjacent to it can be extended. The eagerness of ASI to handover the land is in lieu of the fact that it has been consistently facing problems from locals in the area, and that they do not have enough manpower or security personnel to deal with the situation.
According to ASI officials, locals in the area keep diverting water from Shah Hatim Talab and make the entire area swampy. They do this, officials opined, for grazing purposes and to restrict any developmental work in the area. Milan Kumar Chauley, the superintending archaeologist of ASI-Hyderabad, said, “As of now the entirety of the area in our possession in Naya Qila is being used by locals for grazing purposes.”
In fact, even as ASI officials take up the documentation work of the archaeological remains on the 15-acre land, locals have diverted water onto the land which has hampered their work. After the completion of documentation, ASI will ink a fresh MoU with the State government regarding the extension of the golf course, before handing it over.
These issues were discussed among ASI officials after chief secretary SK Joshi had shot them a letter in September reminding them of a 2012 High Court order which directed the conservation body to hand over the land after completion of the documentation.
Officials felt that the existing problems can only be stopped if entry of locals is prohibited. For that, the agency needs manpower it has no funds. Express has earlier reported how the ASI does not have enough funds to carry on basic operations, like, for example undertaking excavations. For ASI, it would be convenient to hand over the land to the government, and therefater the Hyderabad Golf Association who will have 24x7 security in the area.