Almost every city in India has a neglected heritage site to be ashamed of. But neglect is still somewhat better as compared to wilful exploitation and systematic destruction. Precisely what has been happening with Golconda Fort in Hyderabad.
As a massive portion of the Majnu Burj in the fort collapsed on Monday due to heavy rain, many of those associated with the cause were neither shocked nor caught unaware. A protected monument of the ASI, Golconda Fort has been a victim of its adjoining neighbour Hyderabad Golf Course since several years now. The images, that depicted the complete ruin of the arch and the wall, went viral on social media at the same time inviting sharp criticism for the authorities to have let a 500-year-old fort come to this.
"It's a direct result of allowing the Hyderabad Golf Course to blast rocks with dynamite within the area," Ashhar Farhan, founder of the vibrant culture space in Hyderabad, Lamakaan, has been much more than an armchair or social media activist in the matter. "I have pursued it from the very beginning and have been trying to raise awareness about what is actually happening to the structure of the fort in the process."
He fills in the initial blanks on the fort that was designed to be a completely self-sufficient place in itself, with its own water system, halls, places of worship etc. He adds, "Then what happened was that these golf course people came in. For a golf course, you need landscaping; huge bulldozers were got in to blast the rocks of the fort. The land topography of the area was altered and they even rerouted the waterways."
All the drains were blocked from coming to the residential areas, the original canal was filled up and replaced with a new canal. It is built, quite illegally on archaeological ruins. Farhan is waiting to see how the authorities concerned deflect the blame this time, "There have been such monumental alterations and most done illegally. We've been after them for a long time, a couple of cases are also going on but nothing has come out of it."
What legal route?
Farhan even volunteered to pursue the case before the legal authorities. "It's just that when it comes to legal matters, I am not well versed with paperwork. So I even volunteered to show up in court every time the matter came up for a hearing. But nothing concrete has come out of the efforts so far."
Collapse has been in the cards for a while now
An 18-hole golf course, HGC has been in news on and off. There was a huge ruckus from the activist lobby when last year, Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was almost set to hand over the 15 acres of land near the Golconda Fort to the Telangana Government to develop the golf course. In 2017, Lubna Sarwath, an activist, even filed a petition in court against the construction of the golf course saying the entire area should be cordoned off for preservation and excavation. The 15 acres were for extending the golf course already located on the 50 acre Naya Qila area.
Hyderabad Golf Course - a powerful lobby
Bureaucrats and decision-makers, rank officers from IAS being offered memberships of the elitist club have helped ensure that it stays free of roadblocks that activists may raise. Adds Farhan, "They even offered me the membership but I have the least interest."
We hope the public interest generated as a result of the collapse is enough to see to cause its rightful closure. The Hyderabad Golf Course authorities have been contacted on the matter and this copy will be updated as soon as there is a response from them.
A part of it lies precariously hanging a cliff & immediate attention.— Revler (@CrescentDome) October 13, 2020
Heritage activists opine that it is not just the rains that contributed to its collapse.
This is not the first time, that heritage structures in Hyd city have collapsed.#HyderabadHistory #TelanganaTourism pic.twitter.com/Xl4AP0VtyG
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