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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Officials Finally Wake Up After Sump Dug Up at Mecca Masjid

Weeks after a 15-20 feet pit was dug up inside the Mecca Masjid complex for building a water tank and local complaints of how it has become an eyesore, the Department of Archaeology and Museums (DAM) which protects the structure, said it has not given any permission.

Any excavation at the Mecca Masjid needs permission of DAM while the Archeological Survey of India which protects Charminar does not usually allow any construction near 300 meters of the historic structure. It has recently issued notices to several groups after finding constructions taking place without permission.

"We will depute an officer tomorrow to check the status of this excavation and will take appropriate action," GV Ramakrishna, director of DAM told TOI, when asked about the dug-up pit at the masjid.

Authorities are building a sump with a capacity of five lakh litres at an estimated cost of Rs 35 lakh to cater to the routine maintenance of the mosque and needs of worshippers. The need for water at the mosque remains critical which was not addressed due to technical problems and the recent spate of communal incidents.

Surprised observers including heritage activists pointed out that despite the plans for the sump being drawn a year ago and execution work starting in September this year, the DAM still remains either indifferent to development activity in the mosque or has been caught napping while cranes and bulldozers are clearing soil and boulders near the proposed tank area.

Officials of the HMWS&SB had no answers when they were asked if they sought permission from DAM but pushed the blame on the roads and buildings department. "We are not certain if permission has been sought from the archaeology department. This is because the work was allotted to us when the R&B department had failed to take it up," an official from the HMWS&SB said, on the request of anonymity.

The official added that he would have to sift through documents to check if DAM's permission was sought in the first place.

After excavation, a concrete bed would be laid which would be followed by laying a steel base for reinforcement.

Meanwhile, chemical conservation of the Mecca Masjid has resumed with fungus, moss and lichen being removed from the maqbara. The marble lattices will also be cleaned using preservatives. According to deputy director Trimurthy Raju, the maintenance work is supposed to be completed by December 20.

"Around 3,600 square metres of the monument will be chemically cleaned. The delay is on account of the more than 100 feet height of the facade and walls. Further, it is required that we carry out work carefully and not at breakneck speed," he said.

Times View

It is surprising that officials of the Department of Archaeology and Museums (DAM) and Archaeological Survey of India ( ASI) were completely in the dark about the dug-up pit inside Mecca Masjid even after weeks of work. The monuments in the Old City, especially the Charminar are not just structures of brick and mortar but entities which narrate true tales of events which have shaped the city and the country and should be protected in a much more serious manner. Authorities should carry out regular trainings of staff on protection of such monuments.

Source: Times of India


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