The 400-year-old mosque needs urgent renovation and is losing the staff to maintain it, as funds for salaries are not forthcoming.

Hyderabads historic Mecca Masjid falling into disrepair thanks to govts apathy
news Heritage Friday, January 13, 2017 - 12:38

The historic Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad is one of the city’s most famous tourist sites, attracting not just thousands of worshippers, but ranking high on every tourist visitor’s must-see sights in the city.

The heritage structure, located at the heart of the old city, just a short distance from the Charminar, however, is falling into a pitiable state of disrepair, as it suffers the neglect and apathy of the government.

According to Mannan, the Manager of the Masjid, the Masjid has numerous structural problems that require urgent attention. The main roof of the mosque has developed cracks that cause water seepage during rains. The structure housing a few shrines on the right of the main mosque is in even more urgent need, as its roof has developed major cracks and could collapse soon if not repaired, he said.

 “This structure was constructed more than 400 years ago, but now is not maintained properly. It has been losing its beauty for many years now. It needs the government's attention” says Qadeer Siddiqui, superintendent of Mecca Masjid.

However, despite repeated promises from the government to thoroughly renovate the structure, no help has been forthcoming so far.

The most recent government promise came in May 2016, when Deputy Chief Minister, Mohammed Mahmood Ali, and other officials inspected the Masjid ahead of the holy month of Ramzan. Finding major issues, they promised a massive renovation effort at a cost of Rs 10 crore.

The work to be taken up included restoration of the structure, as well as installation of lighting and sound systems and a comprehensive network of CCTV cameras in the Masjid.

However, almost a year later, the funds are still to appear, while the many problems of the Masjid mount.

“There are 23 CCTV cameras installed inside and outside of Mecca Masjid, but none of them have been functioning for the past two-and-a-half years. I have been requesting the Department of Minorities Welfare for funds, but I have not got a proper response,” Siddiqui explains.

“The Masjid covers around five acres of land, but we don’t have enough staff to maintain the structure or clean the huge area,” he adds.

What’s worse, even the existing staff members of the Masjid have not received their salaries for two months. Hameed, a 37-year-old security guard there, is a worried man, not having received his salary since November.

“For the past two years, this has been the situation here. The salaries are irregular. We had over 24 guards working here, but now there are only 14 of us remaining. Many have left because of the irregular payment of salaries. Since November we have not received our salary, and only god knows how I am surviving,” he says.

With his limited salary of Rs 12,000, Hameed has to manage the household expenses and the education of his two daughters and one son.

With no money coming for the last two months, Hameed is in a financial crisis.

“Everything depends on the money I get. I have to borrow money most of the time,” he adds.

Due to the lack of funds, most of the guards do not even have a proper uniform to wear.

“I got it stitched myself. Others don’t have a proper uniform here. We have been asking for that, but there’s no response till now,” says Shareef, another guard.

As salaries get delayed, and staff strength drops with people quitting, those who remain on the staff are finding themselves overloaded with more work too. “We used to work for 6 to 8 hours, now we work 24-hour shifts. We are tired most of the time. It is getting more difficult every day,” says Mohammad Rafiuddin, a 55-year-old home guard.

“We are human beings. We also need time with our families and proper sleep after working for 24 hours in the cold weather at night. We go home for a few hours and come back again by afternoon. This has been the case for past two years,” he says.  

“This is an open space where we have to stand. There is no proper shade or cabins. At night it becomes very cold. We have been telling the Superintendent about our plight, but he can’t do much about it either,” Rafiuddin adds.

For his part, the Superintendent says that he has been urgently writing to various departments.

“We are doing everything to get salaries released. We hope to receive the salaries soon. We can’t afford to lose more workers here,” he says.

 

 

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