Hyderabad: The walls of Telangana central library guard millions of books but can they stand the test of time? By the looks of the building, not really. After a social activist took to Twitter and posted images of the heritage building, there’s been a debate regarding how well Hyderabad is looking after its monuments.
The building, which is more than a century old, has shown signs of wear-and-tear, with the plaster of the walls coming off, and windows getting damaged. The compound of the library also shows remnants of debris from previous construction work. Poor maintenance has led to the dilapidated condition of not just the state library but many other libraries in the city, say heritage experts.
Speaking to NewsMeter, Deepak Kant Gir, founder of Hyderabad Heritage Trust alleged that the authorities do not have a systematic plan with regard to maintaining heritage buildings.”The state central library has been neglected, without doubt. Does the library have a tenured plan regarding maintenance, or is there information on the library’s budget allocation? You need a systematic approach if you want to protect this building, but the government is not working for that.”
Social activist Vishal Vanjari alleged that the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC) had stopped paying the eight per cent library cess for the maintenance and development of the libraries in the city. “The GHMC is not releasing these funds to the library which has led to the sorry state of these buildings. Even though there are no seating arrangements, the public is ready to bring their own chairs to the Central library and read. So, it is up to the authorities to do something about this issue.”
He further said, “KTR is planning to digitise books and manuscripts preserved in the library. However, when the basic infrastructure of the library is not up to the mark, why would you embark on other projects, while neglecting the building itself?”
The 129-year-old heritage building, located in Afzalgunj, was built in 1891 and was declared a heritage structure.
Funds for libraries
Although libraries are a state subject, funds from Raja Rammohun Roy Library Foundation (RRRLF), an autonomous organisation under the Ministry of Culture provides financial assistance to libraries. In 2018-19, 89 libraries in Telangana received funds of around Rs. 1.5 crores for matching as well as non-matching schemes. While matching assistance to libraries is given to increase accommodation, non-matching schemes are meant for better infrastructure and raise the literacy levels in the region.