Ruins of the fort narrate a sad story of neglect by administration and citizens

It should have been a majestic symbol of the city's past, yet lies steeped in utter apathy. In the hands of citizenry that pride in its heritage, the structure would have stood tall, cared, protected and promoted.

But that does not happen to be the fate of Golconda Fort. The ruins narrate a sad story of neglect, both by the administration and the citizens. Abandoned for decades and lacking the tender care that heritage demands to avoid dissipating into mists of time, the fort with its hoary past faces issues at different levels. Earlier encroachments continue to remain and new ones get added in its immediate vicinities marring the overall impact. Recent times have seen an outcry erupting over the golf course close to the fort with heritage activists raising questions over the project.

Despite proclaimed a monument of National Importance under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act (AM&ASR Act), the prescription of the ambitious Act continue to be flagrantly violated on ground.

The first 100 metres from the fort periphery have been declared ‘prohibited area', clearly spelling out that no constructions are to be allowed, and from there, another 200 metres demarcated as ‘regulated area', meaning any new construction or even repair of the existing buildings have to be done only after obtaining ‘no-objection certificate' from the competent authority.

These stipulations hardly come to the rescue of the fort as efforts of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), its designated custodian, continue to be met with dead-ends. Scores of unauthorised constructions remain and new ones are happening, concede the officials adding, that they were making all possible efforts to check them.

In an amendment to the AM&ASR Act last year, violations on these counts have been provided with more stringent response and those involved in unauthorised constructions could face one year imprisonment and a fine of Rs.1 lakh. Earlier, it was Rs.500 fine and about four weeks of imprisonment, according to an official with ASI.

“This will act as a deterrent and help us in enforcing the regulations better,” hopes the official. Also, the amendment empowers the ASI to directly issue a show cause on unauthorised constructions and in the absence of a reply within 15 days, file an FIR with police for necessary action.

The ASI field staff monitors the prohibited and regulated area and based on their input, show causes issued. “In majority cases, these notices sent through registered post are not being received. They are coming back on the grounds such as wrong address or none available,” he says showing bunches of mail that was returned. At least 200 notices were issued and the initiative met with very little response.

Then what about the police and FIR? Another bunch of communication sent to the local police seeking action against these unauthorised constructions. “Nothing seems to be happening there also,” quips another officer.

Garbage

Debris and garbage too get dumped at various points along the fort wall, moats and ramparts. “The moat near Moti Darwaza was being filled with debris and we could stop it. It has to be cleared now, but who has to do it is a question,” he says.

Civic authorities recently installed garbage bins at different locations but most end up imparting an ugly look. Apart from just close to the fort entrance near parking area, these bins with filled garbage greet visitors at Fateh Darwaza, Jamali Kunta, Banjara Darwaza and Katora Houz. The ASI has written to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) on shifting them. But there is no response so far.