Kabab-e-Jahangiri sells some of the best meat kababs in the Old City and is quite popular among the city folk. But what remains unsaid about this small shop located near Charminar is that it runs out of one of the oldest heritage structures in the city, the Machli Kaman. The Kaman which is one among the four such structures located near the Charminar, houses four shops that sell almost everything from food to perfumes. In fact, the other three Kamans, Sahar-e-Baalil, Kali Kaman and Char Kaman also have areas allocated for shops.
Among the shops functioning from inside the four Kamans are jewellery and hardware stores, pan shops and even Irani chai outlets “We have been doing our business from here for the past several decades. And we are not at all disturbing the monument,” said Afzar Ali Khan, a perfume shop owner at the Machli Kaman.
The city corporation has allowed these shops to operate out of the premises for the past 10 to 15 years by collecting a rent ranging from Rs 400 to Rs 1,800 per annum and the heritage conservation committee of HMDA claims that they cannot evict occupants as they are not harming the monument. In fact, the structures which till about 10 years ago were part of the state archeology department were later included in the heritage list of the HMDA as the former was not able to evict the illegal occupants. As a result of the continued commercial activity all the four Kamans have suffered almost irreparable damage. While the plaster on Sahar-e-Baalil Kaman came off several moons ago, electrical wirings have penetrated the old walls of Char Kaman and Machli Kaman.
Heritage conservationists said that the early seventeenth century structures which were meant to be the standing court or Jilu Khana from where the royal procession started might just disappear soon due to wear and tear. “Another Jilu Khana which was the standing court of Chowmahalla palace is now reduced to dust due to similar mismanagement.
All that remains of the monument is a gate,” said a heritage conservation expert. “While Charminar is under the Archeological Survey of India, even the structures around it should be protected by the state archeology department. “The Kamans are part of the famed Charminar and they should be brought under the conservation rules stipulated by central or state governments,” he said.
However, members of the Heritage Conservation Committee in charge of protecting the Kamans said that any heritage structure can be leased out under the HMDA rules. “The structures like old heritage houses in the area are rented out. We cannot ask the people to go away,” said an official. Conservationists, however, stated that the lease agreements on a heritage structure are illegal and can be quashed by any court. TOI