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Thursday, Oct 17, 2019

Telangana HC strikes down KCR’s plan to demolish palace to build assembly

A division bench of the high court, comprising Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Shameem Akhter, declared the decision of the state cabinet taken on June 18 as null and void.

india Updated: Sep 17, 2019 09:45 IST
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Srinivasa Rao Apparasu
Hindustan Times, Hyderabad
The state high court on Monday struck down its decision to dismantle 150-year old heritage structure Errum Manzil.
The state high court on Monday struck down its decision to dismantle 150-year old heritage structure Errum Manzil.(Twitter: @HiHyderabad)
         

In a setback to the Telangana Rashtra Samithi government headed by chief minister K Chandrasekhar Rao, the state high court on Monday struck down its decision to dismantle 150-year old heritage structure Errum Manzil to build a modern, state-of-the-art state legislative assembly complex in Hyderabad.

A division bench of the high court, comprising Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Shameem Akhter, declared the decision of the state cabinet taken on June 18 as null and void.

The bench issued the orders on a batch of eight public interest litigation petitions (PILs) filed challenging the government decision to bulldoze Errum Manzil. Descendants of Nawab Fakrul Mulk, a noble of erstwhile Hyderabad state, were also opposed to the KCR government’s plan.

The chief minister on June 27 laid foundation to the new assembly complex proposed to be constructed on the lines of Parliament complex with Central Hall in place of Errum Manzil of Nizam’s period. The structure was originally declared as heritage building but, the KCR government recently excluded it from the list of heritage monuments.

The high court bench found fault with the state government for removing the monument from the list of heritage structures under the Telangana Heritage (Protection, Preservation, Conservation and Maintenance) Act of 2017, by ignoring several aspects.

“Dismantling heritage structures is dismantling the people’s existence and erasing the recognition of the city,” the bench said and observed that protection of the heritage is as equally important as preparing plans for the future.

Several heritage activists filed petitions objecting to the demolition of Errum Manzil and the idea of building new secretariat spending huge amounts from the already stressed public exchequer. C Prabhakar, counsel for one of the petitioners, said, the bench agreed with the concerns.

Errum Manzil palace was constructed by Nawab Fakhr-ul-Mulk, one of the nobles of the erstwhile Nizams, the rulers of Hyderabad state, in 1870.

“Fakhr-ul-Mulk was a minister with the Sixth Nizam Mahabub Ali Khan and had constructed beautiful palaces in Hyderabad. The present buildings of Chest Hospital and the Nizam’s College were constructed by him. His descendants gave them away to the then government after 1948, when the Hyderabad state was merged with Indian Union,” heritage activist and secretary of Indian National Trust for Architecture and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) Anuradha Reddy said.

The palace, comprising 150 spacious rooms, was built in the Indo-European Baroque style of architecture with full of stucco and ornamental works. “It was constructed on a hillock abutting the highway and was surrounded by full of greenery,” Reddy said.

It even had nine-hole golf course, polo ground, stable for horses and a dairy farm. The palace was used for royal banquets and other grand events. After it was handed over to the government, it was used as an office of Public Works Department and presently it houses offices of the engineer-in-chief and the chief engineer of the roads and buildings and irrigation and command area development departments.

“Such buildings are part of our heritage and culture which need to be preserved with all care. How can they be demolished for the fancy of the chief minister to have modern assembly complex?” she asked.

First Published: Sep 17, 2019 09:44 IST

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