Come rains, Mecca Masjid crumbles a bit more: Does the govt care about heritage?

Hyderabad's Mecca Masjid continues to crumble, part of adjoining structure's roof collapse
Come rains, Mecca Masjid crumbles a bit more: Does the govt care about heritage?
Come rains, Mecca Masjid crumbles a bit more: Does the govt care about heritage?
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Incessant rains lashing the city has left Hyderabad's roads inundated, and has also damaged a portion of one of its oldest heritage sites, the Mecca Masjid.

Large pieces of the roof fell on Wednesday evening, from the Masjid's Shahi Mausoleum -- the adjoining structure, which houses royal tombs.

"The debris has actually been falling continuously from two days. Workers are cleaning it as it falls, so that people can't see its real condition. Those are royal graves. The water from the rain is getting collected on top of the structure, and seeping through the roof, and leaking inside," says Majlis Bachao Tehreek (MBT) leader Amjed Ullah Khan.

Mecca Masjid, a 17th century monument, is one of Hyderabad's oldest structures, and stands just a few metres away from the city's iconic Charminar.

Even before the rains, the Masjid had numerous structural problems that required urgent attention, with major cracks developing on the roof of the mausoleum.

However, Qadeer Siddiqui, superintendent of Mecca Masjid, seemed to downplay the incident, telling TNM, "It can't be repaired right now. They have included the repair of the tombs, under the larger plan to repair the masjid. Government has granted funds worth Rs 8.48 crore for this."

"The structure is over 400 years old, so some pieces are bound to fall. I have reported it to the government, and the tender process has also been completed. The Director of the Department of Archaeology and Museums has to select the contractor from the tender participants," he added.

However, many are unconvinced about the government's claims.

"The first year after the formation of Telangana, Deputy CM Mohammed Mahmood Ali, along with Charminar MLA Syed Ahmed Pasha Quadri from the AIMIM, held a press conference inside the masjid, and made tall claims. They promised Rs 10 crore, but media reports later found that nothing was released," Amjed says.

In May 2016 too, the Deputy CM and other officials inspected the Masjid ahead of the holy month of Ramzan, and promised a massive renovation effort at a cost of Rs 10 crore.

"This time, they promised Rs 10 crore again, and said that they would sanction it through a green channel. This even received the praise of AIMIM MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi. However, the second year passed, and still nothing happened," Amjed adds.

The work to be taken up includes restoration of the structure, as well as installation of CCTV cameras in the Masjid. Payment of salaries to the staff is also long overdue, with many of the workers not receiving payment for months.

“We are just waiting for the tender announcement; the amount sanctioned will be used to install CCTV cameras, paying salaries etc. We are confident that the maintenance work will be completed well before Ramzan,” Charminar MLA Syed Ahmed Pasha Quadri had told DC in March this year.

However, there were still no results. 

"Again this year, they announced funds, but nothing has come. The masjid is directly under the control of the Minority Welfare Department. However, there is no executive agency in the department, to release funds for the Roads & Buildings (R&B) Department to begin the work," Amjed claims.

Amjed also alleges that the AIMIM wants the money to be sanctioned to the Quli Qutub Shah Urban Development Authority (QQSUDA), which was constituted a few years ago, to development works in the Old City area. 

"However, the QQSUDA don't maintain quality, and there are 30% to 40% kickbacks there. Even the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) is not ready to work on the Mecca Masjid. So, no one knows what is really happening," Amjed says. 

"Only 15 out of the 22 CCTV cameras are working, and staffers are also yet to be paid. Politicians seem to remember the masjid only during Ramzan," he added.

TNM tried to contact Minorties Welfare Department Secretary Syed Omer Jaleel, but received no response.

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