Hyderabad: The 216-year old foundation stone of the historic Mir Alam tank was found broken on Sunday, activists told. The stone, which has inscriptions in both English and Persian, was laid on July 20, 1804.
The message in English reads, “This bank was constructed by Meer Allum Prime Minister of his HSS the Subahdar under the direction of SH Russell ESOP of Corps of Engineers of the Madras Establishment. It was begun in 1804 AD and completed in 1806 AD.”
Around the area, larger construction also was found being done with levelling taking place and a board indicating plotting. All this is within the buffer zone of the water body.
The stone falls under the premises of the bungalow that was built in 1889 by Mir Turab Ali Khan, the first Salar Jung. The bungalow which was treated as a guest house by the Salar Jung, is now in a dishevelled state. A part of the structure is also razed down and the area has been emptied, owing to unspecified construction plans. The rains over the weekend also flooded the premises.
Lubna Sarwat, the state general secretary of the Socialist Party India said that the move is in direct contempt of the High Court’s 2019 Errum Manzil judgment. “The High Court in its common order urged the government to maintain Hyderabad’s history. This foundation was more than 200 years old and should have been looked after.”
Lubna said that as per the directions of the HC, the state government should have reconstituted the Heritage Conservation Committee, and enlisted the 130-year-old bungalow and the foundation stone in the list of protected structures. However, the state government failed to do so.
‘Government is the chief encroacher’
Activists claim that there are encroachments, by the government and other private parties within the full-tank capacity of the tank. Lubna said, “The government is the chief encroacher. It allowed a walk-way and road to pass through the tank. Recently, GHMC also inaugurated a park which falls under the tank’s Full Tank Level (FTL).”
“The water body’s volume and storage capacity has been seriously compromised,” Lubna said, “there is an imminent threat to the drinking water needs of the population if the water-holding capacity of the tank is not restored immediately.”
Located on the south of the Musi river, Mir Alam Tank served as a primary source of drinking water before Osman Sagar and Himayat Sagar were built. The heritage community of Hyderabad too expressed the need to protect the structure and the heritage precinct the tank falls under.