In a move that is expected to be met with heavy criticism by historians and heritage experts, the Telangana government on Monday scrapped a regulation in the Andhra Pradesh Urban Areas Development Act which provided for the protection of heritage structures.
The decision comes even as the state government plans to demolish the Osmania General Hospital and replace it with skyscrapers. It also follows reports of a few heritage structures in the way of the Hyderabad Metro Rail.
According to a report in the Times of India, the government described the regulation as â€œinconsistentâ€œ with the AP Urban Areas (Development) Act of 1975. The regulation was added in 1995 and provided for the â€œconservation of listed buildings, areas, artifacts, structures and precincts of historical, aesthetic and architectural value", which include the Osmania General Hospital (OGH), the four arches around Charminar, Arts College in Osmania University and the Assembly building.
"There is hardly a state which does not have heritage protection laws. It is because of civil society that plans of demolishing Chest Hospital were thwarted. The step is ill advised and makes way for destruction of heritage on whims and fancies of individuals," noted heritage activist M Mandal told TOI.
A report in The New Indian Express adds:
In Hyderabad, there are about 160 notified heritage structures. Almost 75-80 percent of heritage buildings are in private hands. Heritage structures include buildings, monuments, rock structures etc...With the government deleting the regulation, owners of the notified heritage buildings would be entitled to pull down their buildings and construct new residential and commercial complexes as per their choice.
However the government has maintained that it is still keen to protect the state and city's heritage.
"An expert committee will be constituted soon to make recommendations on protecting the monuments and other historical heritage buildings. There are several lacunae in the Act and government is keen to rectify them," a senior official told TNIE