ICOMOS inspection going on in Indian Monuments

With just a fortnight to go for the visit of experts from the International Council of Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) for a final inspection of the Golconda Fort, Charminar and the Qutb Shahi Tombs, it appears that this time too, the Qutb Shahi heritage may not make it to the Unesco's World Heritage list for the year 2013. Authorities concerned have dropped all their grandiose plans to make the monuments ready for final assessment by the international team. Instead, they are now focusing on ad hoc measures to somehow make an impression and be done with the process. Officials at the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) here in Hyderabad cited shortage of time as a reason for not going ahead with the chemical restoration of Charminar. "The congested nature of the Charminar area, lack of time and due to other practical problems, we could only do minor restoration work," said a senior official with ASI on condition of anonymity.

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Golconda Fort

Heritage InspectionThe ASI had even proposed a sub-terrain toilet similar to the one at the Golconda Fort near Charminar. However, now, the same ASI claims it is neither feasible nor required. "There is an existing toilet near Charminar and that is being restored with the help of the GHMC," said Dr R Krishnaiah, superintending archaeologist, ASI.

To make the cut for the Unesco's heritage list, the monument shouldn't have any encroachments around. Officials were supposed to remove all the encroachments near the Charminar ahead of the experts' visit. It couldn't be done but after protracted negotiations, a face-saving formula has been worked out. Krishnaiah said people associated with the temple and the dargah near the monument had extended cooperation for the inspection. "As a result of discussions, they have agreed to remove all the flags, hoardings, syntax water tanks etc during the inspection period," he said.

Similarly, uniform signage for shops and other works near the Charminar were supposed to start after Ramzan but nothing has begun till date. The much-publicised Charminar Pedestrianisation Project supposed to start by August-end hasn't moved an inch.

Golconda Fort
Golconda Fort

When contacted, Dr P Gayatri, Director of State Archaeology, said, "the department is working out an MoU with the Aga Khan Trust for Culture for development of Qutb Shahi gardens at the tombs and we will start laying of Qutb Shahi garden after the experts' visit." Representatives of the trust had earlier visited the city to chalk out a programme for documentation, laying of gardens, conservation of monuments, civic amenities and involving the local community under public-private partnership mode.

Convenor of the Indian National Trust for Arts and Cultural Heritage, an NGO, P Anuradha Reddy, felt it was better to do what could be done at the moment and try to persuade the experts about future plans. "This inspection will be the last chance to satisfy them and get our heritage inscribed in the list for 2013," she pointed out, adding, "dossiers for 2014 are already being prepared. So, if we miss out this time, we will always stand a chance some other time but not next," she added.

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