The Hyderabad metro rail, in its current design, would pass very close to nearly 60 listed heritage monuments along its route, posing a threat to their integrity and their future as heritage sites, say experts who had worked for conservation and recognition of heritage sites in the city.
The representatives of the Indian National Trust for Art & Cultural Heritage (Intach), a non-profit organisation with chapters in several states in the country, say the heritage aspect was totally ignored in planning the Rs 14,132-crore metro train project, which is scheduled to become operational in 2015.
“We had suggested that, in areas where the metro obstructs the view, it could go underground, as was done with Delhi metro in Qutb Minar area and with Bangalore metro near the Vidhan Soudha. But the authorities ignored our suggestion,” says P Anuradha Reddy, convenor, Intach-Hyderabad chapter.
“For a heritage site, the view is everything. Otherwise, you will see the bridge before you see the monument,” says Sajjad Shahid, another Intach functionary.
According to Anuradha Reddy, the metro project does not have a conservation expert of its own, nor did its study consider the views of Intach. “In fact, they say they had held 35 meetings with stakeholders of the project. We were not part of a single one,” she says, adding that her organisation had put across its views at a media forum recently.
The state has several heritage sites with the potential to figure in the Unesco World Heritage Sites list, particularly the Golconda fort, but their chances suffer because of government’s apathy, she says. “There are encroachments around the fort, including a golf course, that violate the site integrity,” says Shahid.
Private efforts at conservation have been more successful in reviving the heritage buildings, she said, citing Falaknuma and the Chow Mahalla palaces. The latter recently won a Unesco award for conservation. Other institutional buildings in government control, such as the Errum Manzil office complex and the Victoria Maternity Hospital near the High Court, were facing violations of the government’s norms, according to Reddy.
Pointing to the apathy of the government and the public, she says, “People failed to challenge the government's plans. Heritage is important, so government can spend a little more. Economic principles cannot determine the value of everything,” she says.
Annual heritage awards
Six heritage sites from the city, selected from a shortlist of 24 entries for the Intach Heritage Awards-2011, will be announced on Monday, April 18. These include natural and built heritage and have been drawn from around 150 entries nominated by the public, architects, and organisations.
The annual awards, in its 16th year now, are meant to highlight the importance of protecting and conserving the city’s heritage, Intach representatives told a media conference here on Friday. The awards, to be presented by the Governor, are finalised by a panel of experts from the fields of architecture, archaeology, urban history, and conservation.