In a win for activists, the Archaeological Survey of India has ordered that the digging work being carried out at Golconda fort be stopped. Heritage activists had stated that the construction of the drain near the fort would have destroyed over 1 km of the moat around the Golconda fort.
The drain was being constructed by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) to carry water that overflows from the Shah Hatim Talab during the monsoon season into the Langar Houz Talab. The work that began in 2018 was sanctioned by the ASI at the insistence of the GHMC and the work was suspended after heritage activists protested against the use of JCBs to dig the drain. The activists had claimed that the construction will damage the fort’s foundation and natural rock formations in the vicinity.
The fort is listed as a heritage structure and comes under the jurisdiction of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and any construction activity within a 100-metre radius without prior permission is prohibited.
TNM spoke to Milan Kumar Chauley, the present superintendent archaeologist of ASI Hyderabad, about the ongoing project and why the work was resumed when stopped once before.
"The project work is worth Rs 5 crore and was sanctioned by the former Superintendent Archaeologist of the ASI. The GHMC started the project after the ASI gave approval. After taking over, I wrote to the GHMC about stopping the construction work. I am not sure why the GHMC has resumed the works in the first place," said Milan Kumar Chauley, the present Superintendent archaeologist of ASI Hyderabad who did not wish to speak more as to why the GHMC resumed the digging works.
However, Mohammad Habbebuddin, a resident of the locality and a heritage activist, told TNM that the need for a drain to carry the water overflowing from Shah Hatim Talab was due to encroachment along its lake bed.
"To construct the Jamali Darwaza road, the GHMC is dumping construction waste and this has reduced the size of the lake drastically. The lake is not overflowing due to excess water, just that the lakes capacity to hold water has reduced," Mohammad said.
Those most affected by the reduction in the lake size are the ones who have built their homes on the lake bed. "Their houses get flooded during the monsoon. The works resumed after they wrote to their corporator and MLA to exert pressure on the GHMC. The people who reside there are vote bank for a particular party," he added.