Move on to revamp Mahbub Chowk Market

Call for a heritage impact assessment

Every year during monsoon, the Mahbub Chowk Market turns into a stinky unpassable mess that makes everyone gag. Rats scamper about on the cracked flooring and large cats chase them. The pitched roof with asbestos sheets leaks at five places as the sections have collapsed. The grand multi-foil entrance arches, the granite columns, the Palladian parapet are hidden behind tin sheets or advertisement boards.

Now, there are two new proposals on the table to rework the historic Mahbub Chowk precinct near Charminar. “The first proposal is an adaptive reuse by retaining the historic footprint of the structure while adding an additional floor. The second proposal is razing the old structure and building on its foundation to create a contemporary place that blends in with the historic character of the place,” says GSV Suryanarayana Murthy of Kshetra who has been roped in by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation for the project.

The trigger to redesign and reuse the market space was a Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University audit in 2018 that listed out structural cracks and a weak foundation of the building and dismissed it as “not fit for living.” From that period, there have been multiple proposals for adaptive reuse of the .8 acres on which the market exists. The new proposal which is gaining traction involves adaptive reuse to turn the markets into traditional markets on the lines that are found in Turkey and Iran. The second proposal is to move the existing meat shops from the central part to the periphery and creation of a central zone free for a crafts bazaar, restaurants and showrooms to cater to the needs of tourists who throng the area. It will also involve the creation of a basement parking space for 90 cars and 104 two-wheelers in an area notorious for absence of parking space.

But not everyone is enthused about the proposed changes. “Technically, we are against the demolition of the old structure. It needs to be conserved and preserved. It needs to be restored and managed according to the needs of such a structure and precinct,” says Anuradha Reddy of the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH), after a preliminary assessment done recently. “A heritage impact assessment and a social impact assessment need to be done before any step is taken.”

“Some people came to inspect the place but we don’t know anything else. We should not be moved till an alternative arrangement is made. This market is close to the city and I have grown up managing this shop,” said Arif, whose chicken shop is near one of the entrance arches.

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