Swathi. V

The dilapidated heritage structure ready to cave in anytime

Library built in 1936 got heritage status in 1998

Restoration requires a conservation architect

HYDERABAD: Ageing façade, extremely unkempt environs are the first to greet a visitor at the State Central Library in Afzalgunj.

One could even be welcomed by an occasional shard off the roof or the glass panes just below, if not circumspect enough.

“We have shifted the book issue counter after a block fell from the roof. Old books and manuscripts are in danger due to lime slabs chipping and falling on them,” said K.Subba Reddy, the Chief Librarian.

Seven years, over seventy, the dilapidated heritage building echoes with need for restoration, which has not been done even after allocation of funds. Constructed in 1936, the building is one of the most imposing structures in the city and got the heritage status in 1998. However, it still remains nobody’s baby as far as maintenance and upkeep goes.

Like all its sibling structures that hark back to the Asafjahi era, the library is ready to give in any time soon. This, despite the Rs.2 crore granted five years ago towards development and renovation works, which are lying idle.

“This being a heritage structure, we ought not to disturb its distinctive features. It was constructed with lime mortar back then and hence concrete mix cannot be used for the repairs. Despite a go-ahead from the Heritage Conservation Committee, we are not able to find competent people to work on it,” says Mr. Reddy.

Laborious process

Restoration involves a laborious process of mixing lime and sand with a number of ingredients and then filling the patches so as not to disturb the original patterns of aesthetic value.

Even the replacement of glass panes requires equal attention as they are embedded in lead so as to withstand heavy gales and heat. Deployment of a conservation architect is a must, says Sajjad Shahed, a member of INTACH, Hyderabad. “Protection of heritage monuments totally depends on the mercy of the departments housed in them. In cases where the department heads are not enthusiastic, the structures are left to decay. Nobody is held accountable,” he says.

A team from the Department of Archaeology and Museums that inspected the building reported utter lack of maintenance. “Earlier, the building was under the care of Roads & Buildings. Later, the responsibility was shifted to the library and since then, the maintenance deteriorated. Water-logging on the terrace and fungus formation are the major decaying factors,” Narayana, Assistant Director of the Department of Archaeology said.