Hyderabad: In absolute disregard for the structural stability of Charminar, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has pressed into service earthmovers to dig up the road close to the Qutub Shahi monument as part of the Charminar Pedestrianisation Programme (CPP). GHMC has not obtained necessary permission from Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), custodian of the 427-year-old stone and mortar grand edifice, to use vibration-causing machines for CPP works.
Heritage and archaeology experts have expressed concern that the vibrations created by the earthmovers may affect the structural stability of Charminar. Since the monument is an imposing structure, the builders may have created a wide and far foundation to keep it standing for centuries. Since earthmovers are used to dig up the road within 15 metres radius, the vibrations may affect the foundation. The road is dug up to a metre below the ground.
The continuous use of vibration-causing machinery in the vicinity of Charminar may also hit other historical and monuments nearby. The Charminar belt is dotted by important heritage structures including Mecca Masjid, Ayurveda Hospital, Unani Hospital and Charkaman. Even the Charminar police station dates back to the Asaf Jahi period.
Milan Kumar Chauley, superintending archaeologist, ASI, Hyderabad, told TOI that the authorities digging up the earth in the historical structure’s vicinity had not obtained prior permission.
Heritage expert, prof P Channa Reddy, who served as the director of the state archaeology department in undivided AP, found fault with the civic authorities for utilising earthmovers for CPP. “Charminar is a major monument and it should be protected at all costs. Only manual digging should be taken up in close proximity of heritage sites. Machines should not be used as vibrations may cause untold damage,” prof Channa Reddy said, adding that such works should be executed under the supervision of experts from ASI or state archaeology.
Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Hyderabad convener, P Anuradha Reddy, said the thoughtless action of officials could rob the future generations of seeing Charminar. “No permission has been obtained from the ASI. There is no ASI supervision. Use of machines should be stopped immediately,” Anuradha Reddy said wondering if the GHMC had conducted mandatory studies like social impact assessment and heritage impact assessment in cooperation with the ASI, and prepared conservation management plan.
Charminar, constructed by Mohammad Quli Qutub Shah V in 1591 CE as part of the creation of the new city of Hyderabad south of the Musi, has been the pride and glory of Hyderabad in particular and India in general. The monument is unique, and Hyderabadis are so attached to Charminar that they swear by it. With vehicular pollution taking a toll on the beauty and strength of Charminar, the state government banned plying of buses and other heavy vehicles about two decades ago.
Under the CPP, no motor vehicle including two-wheelers would be allowed. Ban on vehicles was imposed to prevent damage to the monument caused by vibrations, but ironically the civic body is employing heavy earthmovers to dig up the road, said nonagenarian Olympian Jeelani Pairak.