Hyderabad's Heritage palace faces demolition due to KCR’s new Assembly planstext_fields
Hyderabad: Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao’s plans of building a grand new building of the state Assembly has run into strong resistance. While the heritage conservation activists were up in arms against the plans to demolish the 150-year old palace to make way for the new structure, the residents of the adjacent colonies have also started organizing themselves as they fear displacement.
Errum Manzil Palace was built by Nawab Safdar Jung Musheer-ud-Daula Fakhrul Mulk and after the merger of Hyderabad state the property was taken over by the government. Today it houses the Irrigation Department's headquarters.
Due to years of neglect and failure to properly maintain it, the palace structure is in a dilapidated condition.
Once the two-storied palace decorated with stucco and ornamental work was so huge that its boundaries spread from the present Administrative Staff College of India and at the other end the present Nizam’s Institute of Medical College. Of course none of these institutions existed at the time of its construction and all these buildings including the current location of the present Raj Bhavan, belonged to the nobles of the era.
The descendants of Fakhrul Mulk have come out against the plans to demolish the palace and have written a letter to the Chief Minister KCR to preserve the heritage building.
Nawab Shafat Ali Khan, one of the descendants of the royal family said in the letter, “the palace atop the hill has beautiful architecture which reflects Hyderabad’s rich heritage”.
Many other descendants now living abroad have also joined the chorus of protest demanding not only the conservation but also the restoration of the palace to its old glory. Under the banner of Legal Heirs Association, they have been planning legal action against the government’s plans.
Several conservationists have also questioned the rationale behind the government’s plans to do away with the historic building. They point out that this was not the first time the KCR government or the earlier governments had gone after the heritage structures.
“Earlier the state government tried to demolish the heritage building of Osmania Hospital and desisted only because of widespread protests”, pointed out Mohammed Safiullah, head of the Deccan Heritage Trust.
Activists point out that Errum Manzil Palace was in the list of the heritage monuments under the Hyderabad Urban Development Authority Zoning Regulation, 1981 but the later Telangana Heritage Law nullified that list and it does not have any specific mention of the monuments of Qutub Shahi and Asif Jahi eras of Golkonda kingdom and Hyderabad state.
Meanwhile with the officials visiting the proposed site of the new assembly building and indications that more land will be acquired by the government, the residents of adjoining colonies like Tabela Basti and Ramakrishna Nagar were tense and worried.
The residents of Errum Manzil colony were already under pressure over the plans of Nizam’s Institute of Medical Sciences to take over government quarters for building new blocks.
Experts are also questioning the viability of the plans on the ground that the proposed site falls in a highly congested zone already facing chronic problem of traffic snarls. The Khairatabad-Ameerpet route is always clogged with vehicles and is one of the most polluted areas of the city.
Errum Manzil is not alone in facing extinction. The Rs 4 billion plan to build a new secretariat building replacing the present complex has also endangered the Block-G of secretariat. It was originally Saifabad Palace built by the 6th Nizam Mir Mahbub Ali Khan in 1888. Now this will be among a dozen odd buildings of the old secretariat to be razed to the ground.