Bird droppings a blemish on Hyderabad's heritage structures

HYDERABAD: Diminishing trees and lack of shelters have left birds, especially pigeons that inhabit the city in large numbers, to seek shelter at sparsely-populated heritage structures, damaging them in multiple instances and causing concern among heritage experts.

Pigeon nest in the voids and spaces of old monuments, including Paigah Tombs, Khair-un-Nissa Tomb, Taramati Baradari and Seven Tombs, among many more structures, covering them in filth and making maintenance an uphill task.

P. Anuradha Reddy, the co-convenor of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and an aviation historian, said, “The question is why these pigeons are coming and perching in the city and inhabiting the structures. It is because of the reduction in the forest cover and green space for animals and birds to inhabit. We are equally at fault as we have encroached into their spaces, whether is a waterfall, lakes, rocks or jungles.”

“As there is no round-the-clock disturbance at heritage structures, we find pigeons inhabiting these spaces. In times gone by, there used to be pigeon houses or ‘Kabutarkhanas’, in addition to open areas, lakes, forests and trees, for their habitation. Today, we are forcing them to come to the city, where the major open areas left are the heritage structures,” Reddy said.

S.P. Anchuri, an architect and structural engineer, who is an expert in building material science and has undertaken several heritage conservation works, said that bird droppings damage structures.

Anchuri said, “Generally, it’s seen that significant chemical reactions are triggered by bird droppings on objects of cultural heritage and located outdoors, such as statues, metal monuments, and historic buildings. Preliminary laboratory results and tests of samples reveal that the superficial layers of copper are subject to corrosion due to uric acid and that metal surfaces get altered. The natural protection layer formed on the surface of bronze and copper statues also interacts with uric acid in time, even if it seems to offer a certain protection to bird droppings.”

Experts, however, said that the situation was not unsalvageable.

“A wire coil or stainless-steel wire can be used to deter pigeons from perching on rails. Several suppliers offer a ‘shock track’ system to keep birds away; other measures, such as netting, sound or reflected light, gel repellent with proper periodical maintenance can surely reduce this problem to achieve better life for heritage buildings,” Anchuri said

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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