Pipeline work spells doom for moat at Golconda Fort

Under siege: A view of the damaged portion of the moat wall at the Golconda Fort in Hyderabad.

Under siege: A view of the damaged portion of the moat wall at the Golconda Fort in Hyderabad.  


Efforts by the ASI to stop digging by Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation have gone in vain

A large part of the 500-year-old Golconda Fort’s moat has been pulverised by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) for laying a pipeline. The moat wall between Ahana Burj and Mamola Burj of the Naya Qila area of the fortress has been turned into rubble using drills and earthmovers.

“The GHMC is again digging the moat. We have asked them to stop but the work is still on,” said ASI’s Superintending Archaeologist Milan Kumar Chauley. “Last year, we had written to the GHMC to stop the work after we noticed that a deep channel nearly 10-20 feet below the fort wall was being dug to lay a pipeline. But this is a new development,” Mr. Chauley said.

Satellite images

The extent of destruction can be seen from a Google satellite image that shows an intact moat wall on April 2, 2018 with an earthmover in action and a June 9, 2019 image that shows a heap of rubble where the moat existed. As per the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 30C, officials can be punished with imprisonment and a fine for damage to protected monuments. “If any officer of the Central Government enters into or acquiesces in any agreement to do... abstains from doing, permits, conceals or connives at any act or thing whereby any construction or reconstruction takes place in a prohibited area or regulated area, he shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both,” says the law.

The ASI had agreed to a GHMC proposal for draining excess water from the Shah Hatim Talab to the Langar Houz lake using the moat’s natural gradient as the water was affecting the fort wall. “During monsoon, the Golconda gets flooded and the water can be harmful so we agreed to the proposal. But after seeing the destruction we stopped it,” says Mr. Chauley. The ASI Director-General had written to the Chief Secretary on the damage. The Golconda Fort has remained an impregnable fortress from the time it was built in 1518. In 1687, the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb conquered it after an eight-month siege when a Qutb Shahi traitor opened a small doorway to let in the enemy soldiers.Water from the Shah Hatim Talab flows into the Naya Qila area before exiting to Langar Houz lake at present. A few days back, a twitter user Jasmine Singh posted photographs from inside the Naya Qila showing a frothing lake and complained about the stench by tagging the MAUD Principal Secretary Arvind Kumar, GHMC, Central Zone commissioner Musharraf Ali Faruqui, and Telangana State Pollution Control Board.

“The civic body closed my complaint without trying to redress the grievance,” Ms Singh said.

Loaded with sewage and effluents from the surrounding shantytown, the frothing water raises a stink inside the Naya Qila which has been turned into a golf course. Once the water channel is created at a lower level than the moat, water from the Shah Hatim Talab is expected to drain away without creating stink for the golf players.

“They are doing it to create more real estate. Once the lake water is drained they will build housing complexes on the lake bed,” warns Muhammad Habibuddin, a heritage activist.

“We have limited staff, we can only raise the issue. It is for the local authorities to stop illegal activities like this,” says the ASI official, pointing to the filling up of the Shah Hatim Talab with building debris.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2019 8:45:16 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/pipeline-work-spells-doom-for-moat-at-golconda-fort/article30126658.ece

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