The City Light Hotel tragedy spotlights the precarious condition of some of the hoary monuments in the city

It is a case of doctor heal thyself. While the authorities are busy pulling down run down buildings, no thought is spared for heritage structures, which the city is proud of. Of course, the historic edifices could not be tinkered with leave alone razed, but a stitch in time can save most of them.

The City Light Hotel tragedy spotlights the precarious condition of some of the hoary monuments in the city. The Moazzam Jahi Market, Nampally Sarai and Mahbub Mansion cry for attention. The condition of the last two is so pathetic that one torrential rain is enough to ring the curtain down on their history.

Significantly, all of them are listed heritage structures. Yet the government is least bothered about their protection.

Conservation architects have surveyed these structures and suggested remedial measures. But the GHMC sits on the reports even as the monuments deteriorate by the day. While the vagaries of nature have taken a toll, official apathy and indecisiveness have added to the pace of decay. The Nampally Sarai is a typical case of bureaucratic negligence and red-tapism. The government had in 2007 announced a Rs. 1.1-crore restoration package. Plans were drawn for adaptive reuse of the 94-year-old building by taking up repair and reconstruction of the collapsed portion. But nothing was done. Much later, the Hyderabad Metro Rail (HMR) entered the scene, and the civic body washed its hands off the Sarai by handing it over to HMR in 2008.

HMR toyed with the idea of using the Sarai as an overhead station and an interlinking facility with the Nampally railway station but shelved the plan following protests from heritage activists. Recently the GHMC standing committee wanted the Sarai to be taken back from HMR and a commercial complex to be developed there to generate revenue. As the authorities dilly-dally, the Sarai, built by the 6th Nizam, Mahboob Ali Pasha, in 1919, crumbles brick by brick and the cracks widen.

However, M.J. Market, a Grade-II heritage building, built by the City Improvement Board in 1935, is in a much better condition, but there are clear signs of wear and tear. The chajjas and brackets in the elevation have developed cracks. Lime mortar in the roof can be seen peeling off. Vegetal growth has caused structural dislocation, giving an ugly look to the otherwise impressive granite structure.

A bustling market with 120 shops, it urgently needs chemical wash, ‘sivara’ (plastering), water proofing and anti-corrosive paint to steel the joists in the jack arch roof. The conservation estimates cost Rs. 3 crore, but the GHMC is yet to take a call on it.

Mahboob Mansion, where the 6th Nizam lived on and off, is a pale shadow of its glorious past. Constructed in a mixture of Indian and European style, it has battlement like parapets and semicircular and multi-foil arches. But there are cracks all over, and one can see the sky through the broken wooden rafters in the roof. There are gaps where teak wood doors and windows used to be and rubble greets one everywhere.

A wholesale grain market shifted from Osmangunj functions in the open land acquired by the government in 1980. But the palace rots in the background, uncared and neglected.

The GHMC plans to restore it for adaptive reuse. “It can be a big tourist attraction after renovation. A hotel can also be set up here,” says K. Srinivas Rao, Additional Director (Heritage cell), GHMC.

But going by the official apathy, it seems a long way off.q

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