Yet another blow to Hyderabad’s rock heritage

The billions of years old Khajaguda rock formation’s western edge has been filled with rubble and debris over the past month.

While a road has been laid on the southern side, and the eastern side has been blasted to make way for apartments, the newest activity has destroyed one of the few wild paarijatam (Nyctanthes arbor-tristis) groves.

Trekkers, who visit the rocks on weekends, were surprised to note the disappearance of rocks, and found rock formations filled with soil. “First, one rock formation was destroyed during the lockdown. This dumping of mud and soil is happening at night. I think we lost about 60 wild paarijatam trees and 200 other trees, besides the habitat of countless creatures,” said Arun Vasireddy who has been trekking and documenting the rock formation for the past decade.

On Wednesday, when a few trekkers visited the rock formation, they discovered that preparations were being made to blast the rocks on the southwest side of the rock formation. Police officials, who visited the site around lunchtime, said there was no blasting and went away.

A Hyderabad Road Development Corporation document shows that a spider-web of roads is being constructed in the area, including a 100-feet wide road skirting the hillock. “They have earmarked 920 rock formationsfor demolition to facilitate construction of the road that will connect ORR to Lanco Hills Road,” informs Aleem Qadri who visits the site regularly and has logged the rocks that will be destroyed.

HC’s directions

The Khajaguda Rock Park is a protected site under Regulation 13 of HMDA Zoning rules. In 2019, acting on a PIL filed by Save The Rocks Society, the Telangana High Court had ruled, “The boulders and the rock forms within and surrounding the city of Hyderabad give a distinct identity to the city, and to the State. These rock forms and boulders are essential to the landscape of the city. Hence, it is imperative that these boulders and rock forms are preserved as far as possible by the State.”

The petitioners wanted inclusion of rock formations, particularly the Fakruddingutta rock formation at Puppalguda, in the new Telangana Heritage Act-2017. The court expanded the scope and asked the State for a comprehensive plan for the protection of Hyderabad’s rock heritage.

A few days ago, there was a citizens’ protest at the rock formation. When the protestors reached the site, the didn’t find rocks that they usually used to see. “We found soft mud. The rocks we used to climb are now buried in mud. The government should stop this destruction and auction the mud,” says Mr. Vasireddy.

Incidentally, while the rock formation is a protected site, The Southern Power Distribution Company of Telangana (TSSPDCL) has laid a new line to supply electricity to a three-storied house that has come on the hill.

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2022 1:46:44 pm |