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Telangana Natural Heritage – Hyderabad Rocks జూన్ 21, 2008

Posted by M Bharath Bhushan in Articles, Deccan, Hyderabad, Telangana.
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Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh

 

Rock of Ages

Residents of the Nizam’s city learn to value their monolithic heritage

 

By Amarnath K. Menon

 

The Deccan Plateau, that vast expanse of peninsular India south of the Vindhyas composed mostly of grey granite, is among the oldest and hardest rock formations in the world. There are few who care for it as Frauke Quader does. More specifically, care for the plateau in and around Hyderabad. Quader, who has made Hyderabad her home, developed an interest in rock formations while with the German Foreign Office in Bonn, Brussels and then in Delhi. The German woman has single-handedly forged a citizens alliance for preserving the fascinating rock forms that dot Hyderabad and its outskirts. Bringing together diverse sections of the city, Quader started the Society To Save Rocks (STSR) which till date has made the Hyderabad Urban Development Authority (HUDA) declare nine such formations in and around the city as protected “natural heritage” sites.

 

Quader and the STSR have charted a rocky route trying to get citizens backing and official support after blasting and bulldozing of rock formations to make way for houses and for granite quarrying started picking up in the mid ’80s. In 1992 she got artist Laxma Goud, then a member of the Arts Commission of HUDA, and photographer Moyed Hasan to portray the stunning formations on canvas and in print. While some like Mushroom Rock on the University of Hyderabad campus had a name, they christened others Bear’s Nose, Cliff Rock, Monster Rock, Toadstool Rock, Obelisk, etc, depending on their shapes before putting the paintings and photographs on show. “Exhibitions highlighting the formations helped build sensitivity about their value and beauty,” recalls Quader, who moved into the city with her Hyderbadi husband, an engineer-turned-homoeopath, back in 1975.

 

It was an encouraging start for rallying Hyderabadis to the cause. Rock walks, painting contests for schoolchildren, greeting cards with photographs of the rocks and T-shirts and caps with STSR slogans made several enthusiasts join the society. Yet, the activists could do little to prevent the quarrying and destruction till recently, when with the help of a few civil servants among them STSR got HUDA to put some sites on its protected list.

 

The most impressive of these formations on the fringes of the Durgam Cheruvu in Jubilee Hills is now safe thanks to the STSR, with the lake beside it a boating area under the state Tourism Department. But the society wasn’t as lucky with a 67-acre site on a majestic ridge overlooking Malkan Cheruvu where a film industry housing society was to come up. Though the STSR moved the Andhra Pradesh High Court to stay the construction and hopes the Government will choose another site, the ridge has already been damaged by blasting. Meanwhile, the stsr has compiled three more lists of sites and presented it to HUDA.

 

The success of this environmental protection group is largely due to its awareness campaigns. Rock walks are organised regularly, and rock excursions arranged for school students. “The walks are full of fun and serve as a good base for mountaineering,” says Rehan Chinoy, a class VII student of the Hyderabad Public School who has been on eight of these walks. Exhibitions of rock paintings and photographs by leading Hyderabad-based artists are also held. The society’s appeal is not limited to the young. “We are reaching out to builders and houseowners and explaining to them the value of these rocks,” says STSR President Narender Luther, a retired chief secretary of the Andhra Pradesh Government.

 

The society, which arranges for funds through private contributions and donations, is currently surveying other formations for inclusion in a comprehensive heritage site list of Andhra Pradesh being compiled by them. “Our search is for sites with a geomorphic expression that harbour medicinal plants and little known fauna,” says Dr Rayaprolu Pavanaguru, associate professor of geology, Osmania University and leader of a multi-disciplinary team currently identifying areas for the list to be finalised within a year. “This will unveil a new nature book on Andhra’s past,” says an excited Quader. The society clearly realises that contributing to conservation is a continuous effort.

 

 

Source: India Today, March 13, 2000

 

 

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