Hyderabad: A delegation of the Communist Party of India’s (CPI) leaders from Hyderabad visited the Naya Qila area inside the historical Golconda fort on Saturday. The CPI members went to the heritage spot along with locals days after a bastion inside the Naya Qila area, most of which is occupied by the Hyderabad Golf Club which runs an 18-hole golf course inside the historic area.
The visit on Saturday happened after locals alleged that the HGC had blocked water channels of the Shah Hatim Talab (lake), which lies on the other side of Naya Qila. A channel of the lake also passes through Naya Qila. Locals allege that the HGC blocked it to ensure water does not flood its gold course, which in turn flooded Nadeem Colony which has come up on the Shah Hatim lake’s bed.
“Each city has golf courses, but those are never in the core areas of a city. The golf course management has blocked here by putting up stones and blocked the Shah Hatim lake’s water channel. If they want to fulfil their luxuries, they should do it outside the city, and not play with the lives of people here,” said CPI leader and ex-MP Aziz Pasha after the visit.
A few weeks ago, a huge portion of the historic Majnu Burj (bastion) in the Naya Qila area of the Golconda Fort came crashing down due to heavy rainfall that has been lashing Hyderabad over the last few days. The bastion was already in a vulnerable state since September, and wedge marks on the rock show some human intervention with regard to the collapse.
While it is yet to be ascertained as to how a solid piece of rock came crashing down, activists suspect that some work had been taken up by the Hyderabad Golf Course Association (HGA), which runs a golf course in the historic Naya Qila area, and also the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC), may have caused the damage.
The Naya Qila area is in fact believed to be over 500 years old, and is a part of the Golconda dynasty’s (which founded Hyderabad in 1591) remaining heritage in our city. The Naya Qila area, which is now cut-off from the Golconda fort due to local encroachments, was developed into an external fortification after the first Mughal attack (during the time of Emperor Shah Jahan) on Hyderabad in 1656.
While the Majnu Bastion’s collapse is the latest instance of the city’s heritage getting damaged, in the past the HGA had also disallowed the general public from entering the Naya Qila area. However, according the ASI, there is no such restriction and the public is free to visit the place. The ASI has barred people from Naya Qila as of now.
The Hyderabad Golf Course Association is a powerful lobby, given that most of its patrons are IPS and IAS officers, apart from other many prominent personalities being part of it. The area is now separate from the Golconda fort, as hundreds of houses have been built within the fort area, all of which are technically encroachments, as construction is not permitted around historical monuments as per rules of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the custodian of the Golconda fort.
Homes flooded as colonies built in lake beds
Heavy rains had unleashed havoc and the ensuing floods caused destruction across various areas in the city, among which Tolichowki’s Nadeem Colony and Nizam Colony, were inundated in water.
Nadeem Colony, came up as an encroachment on the historic Shah Hatim Talab (which), which is a Qutb Shahi (Golconda) era (1518-1687) water body. Each year when it rains, houses in the colony get flooded, which is a direct consequence of constructing homes in the full tank level of the lake.
However, locals contend that construction of the Hyderabad golf Course (around 2010) inside the Naya Qila premises led to the illegal encroachment. Residents allege that the original outlet of the lake leads into the Hyderabad Golf Club, and want it to be opened immediately.
While there is definitely a water channel going into the golf course area, it may be noted until some decades ago, people had been farming in those areas, and only a stream from the lake goes into the golf course. Even if their claim is correct, is is also a fact that locals have encroached and built homes in the full tank level of the Shah Hatim lake as well.