Hyderabad: Although all heritage structures and monuments in the city have provisions for ventilation and natural light to pass, they are under great threat due to human negligence.
Structures like the Jubilee Hall, the High Court, the Jawahar Bal Bhavan and the British Residency Complex (Women’s College, Koti) require urgent attention from the fire safety and heritage department officials.
For the sake of convenience, officials have ducted the structures in order to lay electric cables for air conditioners, fans, lights, and other electrical appliances. Although fires have taken place at Jubilee Hall and at the High Court library due to overloading, fire safety officials continue to neglect the safety of heritage moments.
A total of 163 heritage monuments have been listed by the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority. These include structures of historical prominence that are over 100 years old, which display architectural significance and local importance.
Other monuments which would receive protection under the Telangana Heritage Act 2017 include eight monuments across the state listed by the Archaeological Survey of India, of which two — Charminar and Golconda Fort — are from Hyderabad.
A senior heritage department official said that barring the SalarJung Museum and open structures which were made out of stone and have sufficient ventilation, all other monuments are at high risk.
The official said that although buildings like Jubilee Hall, High Court, State Central Library and the Jawahar Bal Bhavan have temporary fire safety, they were at a high risk of fires due to overloading. “Despite the fires that broke out in Jubilee Hall and in the High Court Library, the heritage department officials seem to have learnt nothing. Several heritage structures are being used as offices and with wood, electricity, and books, these are under grave threat,” the official said.
Fire safety officials said that they have shared clear instructions and standard procedures with the office bearers.
“We try discussing our concerns regarding fire safety in heritage monuments, but we are barely ever taken seriously,” lamented the fire safety official.
Chief Secretary S.K. Joshi instructed the officials of various departments who came up with drafts of fire safety norms to categorise fire safety according to the nature of the structure.
He said that fire safety norms should be prepared for both permanent structures and temporary ones where exhibitions, meetings, and other events could be held.
He said that for temporary structures, organisers must take police permission and that the concerned officials must make a field visit prior to giving approval.
He asked the officials to prescribe timelines depending on the nature of permission.
Mr Joshi said that he would further seek suggestions from all the departments before submitting the same to the state government.