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Saturday, April 1, 2023

ASI stops use of earthmovers by golf club at Naya Qila

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Soil and gravel dumped inside the Naya Qila precinct, which is part of the Golconda Fort, on Tuesday.
| Photo Credit: RAMAKRISHNA G.

Dumping of soil, changing of contours and use of earthmovers have become the bone of contention between the Archaeological Survey of India and Hyderabad Golf Club (HGC) at the Naya Qila precinct. The Naya Qila area, which is part of the nationally-protected monument of Golconda Fort, has a golf course run by the HGC.

“Recently, we noticed surreptitious dumping of gravel and building debris inside the fort that would change the contours and destroy the archaeology of the site. We stopped it,” said an ASI official.

In August 2022, the ASI signed an MoU with HGC allowing it to expand the golf course but with caveats of no change in contours and no use of earthmovers. But that has been violated, said a staffer at ASI office. Subsequently, the ASI has increased patrolling at the site, by keeping vigil 24×7, after the recent run-in.

While the golf course has expanded from a small three-hole course outside the Banjari Darwaja, the newest development would alter the importance of the site. “The dumping of debris is happening behind the Bagh-e-Naya Qila garden which was excavated and surveyed a few years ago. This dumping is destroying the remaining archaeological value of the national monument,” said environmental activist Lubna Sarwath who flagged the issue. The ASI has built an interpretation centre to show the importance of the chahar-bagh garden plan during the Qutb Shahi era.

“I will get back to you,” said an HGC official when asked about the newest development.

Guards attacked

Adding to the drama, a drunk person attacked the ASI security guards on Tuesday morning at 2.20 a.m. “We scrutinised the security footage and have identified the culprit. We will let you know the future course of action,” said a police official who went through the CCTV footage.

“I suffered a deep gash on my left hand as the attacker was carrying a sharp knife and demanded my cell phone. I refused and then he attacked my colleague and me,” said security guard Dharmendra Prasad, who was injured in the scuffle.

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