Hyderabad: Renovation of the 16th Century Macca Masjid is not likely to begin any time soon, with the Department of Archaeology and Monuments (DAM) unable to get “good” contractors to do the work.
DAM had called for tenders twice but failed to get a response from well-qualified firms. “Now for the third time we are going to invite tenders and hope to finalise it soon,” said DAM deputy director, B. Narayana.
The project cost is pegged at Rs 8.48 crore, but the Minorities Welfare Department has released only Rs 1 crore in May to the DAM. “We have asked for another Rs 2 crore as the sum is inadequate to start the work. The Minorities Welfare Department has asked the TS Wakf Board to release the funds,” he said.
Renovation and repair of the main structure is the priority. “The roof is leaking and we have to dig it up and refill with correct composition of material used during its construction four centuries ago,” Mr Narayana said.
Logistics and scale of the renovation project are daunting. Heavy cranes will have to be used to instal lifts and trolleys to transport material to the terrace of the mosque. The height of the mosque is about 75 feet.
Material will have to be brought constantly for the work, which will take at least two years to complete. DAM officials are planning to open a temporary gate on the Panch Mohalla side to bring materials and equipment. But there are chances of protest from the trader community, said superintendent of Macca Masjid, Mohammed Abdul Qadeer Siddiqui. There are also apprehensions that the flow of funds will not be maintained. “If the funds are stopped midway, it would mean escalation of the costs,” said another official.
NRIs willing to fund for repairs
Muslim leaders are attributing the delay in the restoration of Macca Masjid to disinterest on the part of the officials of the Department of Archaeology and Monuments.
Osman Bin Mohammed Al-Hajri, president of the Deccan Wakf Protection Society, said that the authorities have been promising to take up the work for the past three years. “If the government is not interested in starting the work, then the community is willing to take up the work. Let the Minorities Welfare Department can open a bank account and we will donate money for the repairs.
International firms with expertise in the conservation of heritage structures can be roped in if the state departments are unable to do so,” he said. Mr Al-Hajri said that scores of affluent persons from the community, as well as NRIs, are willing to donate money for the restoration of the mosque. “A stitch in time saves nine,” he adds.
The Millat Front, a city-based organisation, shares the same opinion. “The mosque belongs to Allah. It doesn’t matter who arranges funds for its maintenance and upkeep. It is a place of prayer and a 400-year-old historical landmark,” said S.M. Abdul Khadeer, president of the organisation.
He said that the condition of the mosque is worsening with every rainy season. “Now water is seeping through walls too. A few days ago, the plaster from the ceiling of the mausoleum in the courtyard started falling off due to the rains.”
Mr Abdul Khadeer said that Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao had promised to have the historic mosque restored at the earliest. “Except for paperwork and official visits, nothing has happened so far,” he said. Several heritage lovers and activists believe that it is time for the government to take some action.