Construction on Pucca Qila premises stopped.

HYDERABAD -- The district administration intervened to stop construction of a ground plus five story plaza on a plot for a ground plus five story plaza near 17th century Pucca Qilla's rampart.

The plot was carved out after demolishing fortification wall of the fort seven and a half years back, prompting culture and antiquity department to lodge an FIR over damage to a 55-foot piece of the fort wall.

The plot spread over 2,600 square feet was said to be owned by one Mr Shaukat who claimed to have purchased it from a builder. Work on the site remained suspended since the culture department's legal action.

According to the owner's claim, the plot was leased by katchi abadi department of the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (HMC) and that he had got its layout plan approved from Hyderabad Development Authority (HDA). The plot was located in the area popularly known as Gali number-1 of the fort.

Pucca Qila had been protected heritage site under the relevant law of Antiquities Act, 1975. A large population lives inside the fort and it also houses some government buildings. The plot's lease was cancelled by then taluka nazim reportedly during the tenure of Kanwar Naveed Jamil as the city mayor.

The lease's cancellation was challenged in civil court where HMC staff did not pursue it 'purposely' as it did in other cases. HMC's staff often acts in this manner for pecuniary considerations on a case to case basis.

The owner again attempted to restart the construction work after clearing debris from the plot. He started the work on the night of Jan 14-15 (when LG polls were scheduled).

However, Hyderabad deputy commissioner Fuad Ghaffar Soomro learnt about it on the polling day and got the work stopped through mukhtiarkar concerned. Since then the work had been put on hold.

DC Soomro confirmed to Dawn over phone that he had also spoken to Sindh secretary of culture Nasimul Ghani Sahito who told him that he had directed the staff concerned of the antiquity department to intervene.

According to an antiquity official, Ms Sindhu Chandio, it was she who got the work stopped after learning about it. 'I have sent my report in this regard to the department's high-ups,' she said.

Nasim Sahito, however, told Dawn over phone that antiquity officials had been asked to look into issue as Pucca Qilla was an antiquity.

According to Ms Chandio, as per HMC's record Pucca Qilla was spread over 16 acres whereas according to archaeology department it was located over 38-12...

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