If the civic body has its way another historic edifice might bite the dust soon.
With a view to decongesting the Charminar-Chandrayangutta road, the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) has set its eyes on the Aliabad Sarai, a listed grade I structure. There are about 80 shops functioning from this rundown Sarai belonging to the Masjide Almas and Dargah Hazrat Miskeen Shah Saheb.
Interestingly, the mosque Mutawalli, Ghulam Murtuza Siddiqui, has given his consent to the GHMC to acquire the property to widen the road. The only condition he has put is that the compensation should be paid at the prevailing market rate and not at the R&B scheduled rate. He also wants the main door of the mosque to be reconstructed along with toilet blocks and ‘wazu khana’. The proposed road widening through Shalibanda and Aliabad is expected to eat into 1,819 sq yards of the Sarai land. But the Wakf Board survey puts the figure at 1,844.77 sq yards. In its meeting the Board unanimously resolved to accept the GHMC proposal subject to the condition proposed by the Mutawalli.
Significantly it has not occurred either to the Wakf Board or the Mutwalli that the Sarai could not be bulldozed since it is a heritage structure of the Qutb Shahi times. The corporation toyed with this idea earlier too but had to beat a retreat when conservationists raised a hue and cry.
Lost in a row of shops
The ‘Sarai’ is difficult to be identified since it is lost in a row of shops on either side of the road. During the Qutb Shahi period it served as a resting place for weary travellers entering Hyderabad. Till 1955, the Aliabad Darwaza was also present here. Now the arch shaped Sarai has given room to readymade garment shops, mechanic workshops, tailoring shops and other such trades. Most of the tenants are occupying the shops for decades and pay a pittance of Rs. 400 as rent, it is said.
Road widening on this stretch is hanging fire for years due to court litigations and presence of religious structures. Presently the road width at Aliabad is between 30 to 40 feet and under the master plan it is proposed to widen it to 100 feet. This is also necessary when the Metro Rail corridor II comes up. GHMC officials admit that the Sarai could not be touched and pass on the buck to the Hyderabad Metro Rail.