Hyderabad: The age-old Moazzam Jahi market’s restoration and reopening was announced in a grand manner on 14 August. What was supposed to be a matter of pride for Hyderabad’s heritage has now become an embarrassment for the state government, as all it took was a few continuous spells of rainfall for its roofs and walls to leak with water, indicating that work on the structure is still unfinished.
The seepage in the roof and other parts of the Moazzam Jahi market was visible even when this reporter visited the place on Monday afternoon. An architect, who did not want to be quoted, said that the work on Moazzam Jahi is incomplete, in terms of restoration, due to which rain water seeped into the walls. “All it took was one day of heavy rain to undo the work. They opened it on 15 August for the sake of it,” he added.
The market area, built in the 1930s, has been rid of all encroachments and now also exhibits interpretation panels with historical and architectural information. The transformation of the heritage structure began after Arvind Kumar, principal secretary (MA&UD), decided to adopt and restore it a few years ago.
While the issue of water seepage is definitely a red flag, the old market, which houses about 120 shops, now is healthier overall as the central compound has been turned into a pedestrian-only zone, with obstructions being put in place for vehicles. In terms of aesthetics, it certainly looks much better than it did two years ago.
The water seepage into the heritage structure’s walls is a big red flag, as it will damage the structure if is not addressed. Moreover, Rs.15 crore has been spent by the Municipal Administration and urban Development (MA&UD) department on the Moazzam Jahi market’s restoration. When contacted, a state government official said that the issue will definitely be fixed.
“It was raining continuously from the last three days, so it (seepage) happened. Since it is an old structure which was just restored, this issue has cropped up. The bill has not been paid yet (to the firm/person who took up the work. It will be fixed,” the official assured.
The Moazzam Jahi market, constructed in the Indo-Sarcenic (also known as Osmanian) form of architecture, was part of the modern infrastructure built during the reign of Osman Ali Khan, the seventh and last Nizam of the princely state of Hyderabad. The board had been set up to modernize the city, after it was first affected with the 1908 devastating Musi river floods and later by the bubonic plague in the following years (from 1912).
The proposal to construct the Moazzam Jahi market was made in 1932 by the board to the Nizam and it was approved in 1933. An estimate of Rs. 3,00,000 was sanctioned, and the market was completed in 1935. It was named after Nawab Moazzam Jah Bahadur, the second son of Mir Osman Ali Khan. This market stands on a triangular site covering an area of 1.77 acres with 120 shops. The building is made of granite stone and the ceiling of the market is built with Jack arches containing iron beams.
In particular, a lot of Hyderabad’s heritage structures, many of which are still used as government offices, were constructed during the time of Osman Ali Khan (1911-48). The High Court, Government City College, Osmania University, Osmania General Hospital, etc., are some of them.
The writer is a Hyderabad-based journalist who has previously worked with The New Indian Express, The Hindu and Mint.