Waqf ruling stalls key heritage project

The Qutb Shahi Tombs complex is one of the most visited landmarks in Hyderabad.   | Photo Credit: Serish Nanisetti

Work on the Interpretation Centre of the Quli Qutb Heritage Park has come to a grinding halt following a ruling by the Telangana State Waqf Tribunal. The tribunal gave a temporary injunction on January 8, restraining officials from ‘excavation, transportation of the soil, making/raising/developing any construction in the name of interpretation centre or any other structures in Deccan Park and Aqua Park’.

ASI gazette invoked

The petitioners invoked Archaeological Survey of India’s Central Gazette Notification of 1992 which prohibits construction within 100 metres from the outer wall of ancient monuments. The petitioners said the interpretation centre would be 60 metres from the outer wall. However, the Qutb Shahi Tombs complex is under the custody of Department of Archaeology and Museums. It is protected under Telangana Heritage (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Maintenance) Act, 2017, which doesn’t specify any area from the monument as protected zone.

The importance of the project can be gauged from the fact that the foundation stone for the interpretation centre was laid by Municipal Administration and Urban Development Minister K.T. Rama Rao in July 2020.

The interpretation centre was being built in the disused Deccan Park from monies granted under Swadesh Darshan grant by the the Central Government to boost tourism.

Tourism setback

Recently, Telangana government introduced TS-iPass for similar tourism projects to give automatic approval within 30 days. But this stoppage of work will be a setback for the Telangana State Tourism Development Corporation which is carrying out the project.

Despite being one of the biggest tourist draws in the city, the medieval site doesn’t have any information centre.

The incomplete dome before the entrance is wrongly attributed to the last Qutb Shahi ruler Abul Hasan. It actually has the grave of Mirza Nizamuddin who died in 1674. The interpretation centre was expected to fix this information lacunae.

“The interpretation centre is a major facility planned for this incredible site – it is well designed – and is being built with a Central government grant. We, at the Aga Khan Trust for Culture, are providing all technical support and project management for the building,” said an official of AKTC.

Heritage activists are livid at the stoppage of work. “This was one project that is being executed by professionals. Every bit of work on the site is peer-reviewed with the best conservation practices. If work is stopped on this site, it will be a real shame,” said historian Sajjad Shahid.

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Printable version | Mar 8, 2021 1:47:59 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/waqf-ruling-stalls-key-heritage-project/article33603227.ece

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