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Saturday, 28 April 2012

Golden Threshold under threat?

TNN | Apr 22, 2012, 03.06AM IST

HYDERABAD: A group of residents from Abids on Saturday protested against the construction of a commercial establishment adjacent to the Golden Threshold, a protected heritage monument located on Nampally station road. They alleged that the builder, in connivance with government authorities, was erecting a multi-storied complex next to the centuries-old structure, once home to legendary poet and freedom fighter Sarojini Naidu. Residents demanded that the project be scrapped immediately.

Speaking at a press conference held in the city, residents said that the developer had dug deep foundation pits, measuring between 25 and 35 feet, less than three meters away from the ancient monument, in gross violation of heritage norms. "This might threaten the main foundation of the building and even damage it beyond repair," said Arun Kumar, one of the residents stressing on the need to protect and preserve the grade-I heritage property, often considered a national treasure.

The Golden Threshold is currently maintained by the University of Hyderabad (UoH) and even houses a few offices of the varsity. In fact, at a recent event organized as part of the ongoing heritage week, Ramakrishna Ramaswamy, vice chancellor of UoH, announced that the heritage monument would soon be restored and transformed into a museum-cum-cultural centre. The university, it is believed, has signed a memorandum of understanding with INTACH to undertake the restoration project.

Echoing the sentiments of residents, heritage activists from the city said that the commercial venture should be pulled out of its current location. Apart from being less than 100 meters away from the Golden Threshold (the heritage rules does not allow for any construction within this distance), the plan of the modern structure, activists rued, was also out of sync with the architecture of the historic monument. "This is not permitted. Also, the height of the building could be a concern as the rules do not allow a new construction to block the view of a heritage property," said an INTACH member from the city.

Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority (HMDA) officials, however, seemed far from concerned. While the project plan, as per the rulebook, should be passed by the Heritage Conservation Committee under HMDA, officials of the department said they had little to do with the recent construction. They instead passed the buck on to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation. "It is GHMC that sanctions such plans. Unless they (GHMC officials) do anything about stalling the project, we cannot take any action," said Syed Ziauddin, chief planner, HMDA.

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