The Musi Heritage Precinct Revitalisation Project, shortlisted under the Inclusive Heritage-Based City Development Programme, plans to address issues along the entire 21.5-km stretch of the Musi river, with special focus on the heritage precinct within, spread over 4.29 km. As many as 35 structures of heritage relevance have been identified near the river for restoration

The much abused Musi river and its surroundings are in for better days. Not just its ecological state but the squatter and slum settlements along the river can hope for improvement. The Musi Heritage Precinct Revitalisation Project promises to breathe new life into the river, which has been reduced to an open sewer.

The project, shortlisted under the Inclusive Heritage-Based City Development Programme (IHCDP), plans to address issues along the entire 21.5-km stretch of the Musi river, with special focus on the heritage precinct within, spread over 4.29 km. World Bank official Stefania Abakerli and representatives of Cities Alliance and Centre for Environment Planning and Technology (CEPT) University, Ahmedabad, are arriving here on Friday to discuss the detailed project report (DPR) prepared by CEPT for the revitalisation of the Musi river.

Hyderabad is among the four cities chosen by the Ministry of Urban Development for piloting the project. The three others are Ajmer, Pushkar and Varanasi.

The IHCDP wants to bring traditional neighbourhoods, streetscapes, cultural expressions, handicrafts and traditional socio-economic practices under the inclusive heritage development. The heritage cell of the GHMC, which is executing the project, has identified Monda Market and Old Jail, Pan Bazaar and Jagganath Swamy temple, Karwan Road and Musi revitalisation for development. However, the Government of India has selected the last one for improvement.

“The project, estimated to cost Rs. 50 crore, will be funded by the World Bank,” says K. Srinivas Rao, Additional Director, Heritage Cell, GHMC.

The project has been divided into three distinct components in tune with the physical character of the river stretch. They are: the ecological precinct from Tippu Khan bridge to Puranapul (7.28 km), the Heritage Precinct from Puranapul to Chaderghat bridge (3.98 km) and the Metropolitan Precinct from Chaderghat bridge to Nagole bridge (8.64 km).

A number of physical interventions and infrastructure development, besides aesthetic enhancement, are proposed at all these spots. “We are also looking at livelihood and community linkages while making physical interventions,” says Mr. Rao, who is coordinating the project. The heritage-specific interventions aim at restoring the physical character on identified stretches while upgrading the quality of public amenities and services. The local economy is sought to be revitalised through strengthening local informal markets by provision of hawker and vending zones in a regulated manner. Service delivery and infrastructure are planned to be revived at the public level rather than at the household level. This includes better roads, landscaping, lane pavement, solar street lighting and street furniture.

Heritage upgrade of the area is also on the cards. As many as 35 structures of heritage relevance have been identified near the Musi river. Apart from their restoration, a heritage route, with access to the Charminar Pedestrian Project (CPP) precincts, is also proposed. The most important aspect - rather the defining element - of the project is facilitating better engagement of communities within the Musi Heritage Precinct.

For this, development of the Puranapul pedestrian causeway has been proposed. Temporary shelters for vendors have been planned on the hoary Purnapul bridge, restoring the stone wall of the Musi embankment at Jumerat Bazaar, Puranapul and Chudi Bazaar. Permanent stalls are proposed at the weekly shanty at Jumerat Bazaar to regulate the market. The sprawling ground will be paved with cobble stones. Hawker zones with amenities like lighting, plantation and off-street parking will be provided.

At Muslimjungpul, where pigeons abound, a bird feeding zone is proposed. Street lights, furniture and information signages will be put up there. Besides, promenades have been planned from Chaderghat bridge to Imlibun bus station and from Muslimjung bridge to Shivaji bridge. “At all these places, vending zones, landscaping and lighting will be provided,” says Mr. Rao.

Unfortunately, the river front development done by the GHMC in front of the High Court has proved a damp squib. Commissioning of the STP at Attapur by the Water Board is expected to improve water quality.

Grass cultivation in the Musi river bed is another stumbling block for the authorities. According to revenue records, there are 57,721 square yards of government land and 68,924 square yards of patta land. There is a dispute on this, with the grass cultivators claiming that the agriculture patta was given to them by the Nizam, while the GHMC says it is not so.

The unfettered growth of urbanisation cannot be stopped. But surely heritage can be leveraged and showcased around development.

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