Monday, October 26, 2020

450-year-old Katora Houz again turns into a cesspool

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Hyderabad: In spite of several restoration efforts, the 450-year-old four-acre historic Katora Houz, a man-made cup-shaped lake located inside the Golconda Fort area once again turned into a cesspool filled with sewerage and hyacinth. The water body, which once used to be a source of drinking water, has now also turned into a fertile breeding ground for mosquitoes.

In Urdu, ‘Katora’ means bowl, and the name ‘Katora’ is derived from its shape. It was constructed in 1560, during the reign of Ibrahim Qutb Shah (1550-80), the third of the Qutb Shah dynasty, which founded Hyderabad (1591). Before Hyderabad was built, the Golconda fort used to be a walled city, and several lakes such as the Katora Houz (meaning fountain) were also constructed for various purposes.

In the past, an attempt to restore the Katora Houz was taken up by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) in August 2018, and the civic body started desilting works in the tank. The GHMC spent over Rs.50 lakh for removing trash and water hyacinth from the lake, which was last cleaned-up in 2018, after which the civic body announced plans to restore the lake.

It is said that the Katora Houz was once filled with rose water for Ibrahim Qutb Shah, who visited the place and enjoyed its ambiance. However, in stark contrast now, thanks to the apathy of the citizens and the officialdom, the one0kilometre radius of the lake is filled with murky water, and is also covered with water hyacinth and weed.

During the Qutb Shahi period, the Katora Houz used to get water from dedicated underground pipes connected to the Talaab-e-Durg, now known as Durgam Cheruvu. Now, sewage from nearby localities is also discharged into the tank, which is supposed to be a protected heritage structure. It is said that the lake also came to the rescue of people inside the Golconda fort in 1687, when Abul Hassan, the last Qutb Shahi king was fighting a war with the forces of Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, before they managed to get into the fort.

Speaking to siasat.com, a resident of the Golconda area, Mohammed Siraj (62), complained that GHMC workers do not turn up regularly for carrying out cleaning works. “The water tank is filled with drainage water again. If the workers would have visited the tank, it would have been cleaned by now. After rains last month, a pungent smell started emanating, and was there in the vicinity for a few days,” added Siraj.

When contacted, MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) Kausar Mohiuddin from the Karwan constituency (under which the Golconda area falls) said that he will soon submit a representation to Telangana Tourism Minister Srinivas Goud to take up the restoration works of Katora Houz. 

“Restoration works were stopped due to COVID-19 lockdown after which the workers were not available for the work” said Kausar Mohiuddin. When siasat.com tried contacting GHMC officials to know when the works would start, there was no response. 

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