The Telangana government's World Heritage Week celebrations appear to be a facade - one that bears an uncanny resemblance to those of many listed heritage structures it once swore to protect.
Behind this majestic facade works a commissioned demolition crew. One which is quietly chipping away at its foundations. In the case of the brick and lime mortar structure usually are private players, and behind the edifice of heritage protection is the government. But what remains unchanged in both cases is the fact that the facade is subterfuge giving the impression that all is well.
The alarm bells have gone yet off again. Two incidents - one of wanton destruction of the listed IAS Officer's Association Club in Begumpet and the other a government order paving way for moving patients out of the Osmania General Hospital - are a cause of grave concern, at least for the lovers of relics of history. While a case pertaining to the former is posted for hearing in the high court in about a fortnight, a sense of foreboding grows with each passing day with regards to the latter.
The Telangana government on many an occasion has claimed that it is keen on protecting the city's and the state's heritage. But its actions tell a different story. One is forced to infer that perhaps the government's understanding of heritage and its preservation is different from that of the average heritage activist's or of the commoners'. If the commoner wishes to know what 'heritage' in the current context implies, he does a quick Google search. This leads him or her to the UNESCO website. The commoner clicks on a link which provides the definition of "immovable and natural heritage". The heritage activist, on the other hand, in addition to UNESCO's definition as accessed by the commoner, frequently refers a handbook which the Hyderabad Metropolitan Development Authority has issued. Its definitions of heritage structures remarkably do not seem at odds with UNESCO's. It is as if one is back to square one, compelled to wonder, again, if the government has its own bureaucrat driven definition of heritage; a closely guarded secret, much like the cola formula.