The once beautiful and historical Charminar and Golconda Fort are now in shambles. They have become eyesores as they are in a state of total neglect. They are crying for attention from the government. There seems to be no political will in the government to protect these historical monuments from becoming history.
For decades, these monuments have been waging a grim battle against vehicular pollution and all-round unbridled encroachments, surrounded as they are by the multi-storeyed buildings which are constructed in the restricted zone.
Though voluntary organisations like the Indian National Trust For Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), Forum for Better Hyderabad and others are creating awareness of the impending dangers to the four-centuries-old monuments the authorities are least bothered to protect them.
For over a decade nothing has been done by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), State Archaeology and Museums Department, the Tourism and Culture Department and the GHMC to conserve and protect these monuments.
Though Charminar had suffered natural calamities in the past it had withstood the same due to the care showered on it by the then rulers, administrators and people. The same Charminar is now facing the most acute crisis of its life - its very existence is threatened.
Just a few metres away from Charminar, one can easily see the place clogged and hawkers occupying it completely. Even the tourists coming to see the place are appalled by the government negligence and the greed of shopkeepers, whose presence has marred the chances of an unhindered view of its architectural beauty.
The monument is in a bad shape compared to what it was a few decades ago. One can see Plaster of Paris of its arches peeling off. Graffiti on the walls by tourists and others has spoiled only added to its ugliness. The area around it too has become an eyesore being littered with food packets and used water bottles.
“The city’s exclusion from UNESCO’s World Heritage tag this year should serve as an eye-opener to the authorities who have consistently neglected AP’s rich heritage. Instead of protecting the monuments, the government itself is causing their destruction either willfully or through shoddy restoration work”, INTACH Convener, Anuradha Reddy told Express.
“Around these monuments, one easily find several multi-storeyed buildings coming up in violation of the rules and regulations. As per rules, no building structures should come up within 300 metres but in the case of Charminar, Golconda and others one can find huge pucca structures within 100 metres. One can find dangling power lines,transformers, parking lots at these sites without any landscaping”, she said.
‘’The government should first focused its attention on restoring the dilapidated Charminar and Golconda Fort before it goes about seeking any heritage status’’, she added.
Anuradha Reddy said: “Hyderabad is a city of architectural monuments depicting the old culture and civilisation of this area. This city attracts many tourists because of these old architectural structures. Charminar speaks of its grandeur but of late things have turned from bad to worse as there is no proper maintenance by the authorities concerned”.
She pointed out that both Charminar and Golconda Fort were ASI-protected monuments. According to the rules of ASI, no construction should be made within 300 metres of the protected monument (protected zone 100 mts and 200 restricted zone).
But still more and more huge structures were coming up around Charminar and Golconda Fort. The irony is that while almost all the states in the country have bagged the UNESCO awards, Andhra Pradesh has failed to bag any UNESCO awards so far. This is because there is no strong will from the government to protect the historical monuments and many of them lie in shambles state, according to Ms Reddy.
For getting UNESCO recognition for the historical monuments, the concerned government departments should make attempts 10 years in advance. But we find such preparations lacking from the government. The government with strong will should support the departments concerned to ensure proper management and way towards getting UNESCO recognition.
Ms Reddy said that Government had to take a lesson from Chowmahalla Palace which was maintained privately. The magnificent monument bagged the UNESCO Asia Pacific Merit award for cultural heritage preservation.
The Forum for Better Hyderabad has also been raising a hue and cry over the controversy-ridden Hyderabad Golf Course at the Naya Qila part of the Golconda Fort. NGOs have been highlighting the ‘systematic damage’ being done to heritage and environment in the name of a golf course.There are no efforts to remove the encroachments.
Forum President, M Ved Kumar alleged that HGA was damaging the graves at the masjid and disturbing the contours of the qila and garden. “Over the last few years, several complaints were lodged with ASI over the violations being made by HGA but ASI authorities never bothered to address them.
In the name of grassing, the HGA authorities are changing the contours by digging, levelling the land, using pesticides, etc., and are encroaching upon water bodies and gardens in the qila”. He added that these monuments needed repairs but the ASI and government were ignoring the same.
“The 2010 amendment to the Ancient Monuments and Archeological Sites and Remains Act has made it clear that there cannot be any encroachments within 300 meters of monuments but one can find religious structures and multi-storeyed buildings within 300 metres of the monuments,” he said and balmed the government for the same.
He wanted the government should not give building permissions for any structure near any heritage site until the owners submitted a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from the ASI and/or the State Archeology Department.