Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Treasure hunt in Hyderabad: Archaeology department takes up scientific survey of school ground

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: With manual and mechanized digging in the last
three days failing to locate the tunnel suspected to contain a hidden
treasure, the State Archaeology Department has decided to use
state-of-the-art scientific equipment to take the excavation to its
logical conclusion.

It will press into service ground scanners, earth imagers, long-range
gold detectors, and gradiometers, as the situation demands, for
electromagnetic and acoustical feedback. For this, it has sought the
help of the National Mineral Development Corporation and the
Geological Survey of India. If the need arose, the Archaeology
Department will also approach the National Remote Sensing Centre of
the Indian Space Research Organisation for help.

“We are not going to leave the excavation mid way. We will utilise all
sorts of modern technology to verify the claim on the hidden treasure.
Saifabad and its surroundings is a treasure trove prone area. We have
earlier found tunnels with empty iron chests and almirahs, which
indicate the presence of treasure. The modern equipment will help us
to find out the tunnel and if it is there, whether the tunnel is
standalone or connected to similar structures excavated in the
vicinity,” Dr P Channa Reddy, director of Archaeology and Museums. He
is also the State Treasure Trove officer.

A team of officials from NMDC visited the site on Monday and would
visit again on Tuesday for a preliminary assessment. Excavation work
was stopped on Monday pending help from expert agencies. The
management of Vidyaranya School, where the alleged treasure trove is
hidden, took objection to the excavation work and demanded that it be
stopped. One of the school committee members pulled up Tourism and
Archaeology Minister Vatti Vasanth Kumar when he visited the site. The
school reopens on Tuesday after Sunday and Mahashivratri holiday.

The Archaeology Department took up the excavation work on Saturday
following a sworn affidavit by nine prominent citizens led by Mr DS Rama 
Raju, an executive in Coal India Limited, that some of them, besides a
mason, Mallesh, had entered the tunnel and saw an iron gate inside.
The department has sent a team to Mahbubnagar to bring some of the
masons, who allegedly saw the tunnel and the treasure inside. Mallesh
and the other masons were involved in a construction work at the site
a few months ago.

According to Mr Raju, the idea of a hidden treasure in the tunnel
gained credence, as there was a strong iron gate a few feet away from
the entrance. “In all the tunnels excavated in the vicinity there were
no iron gates. The fact that this tunnel has an iron gate shows that
something precious was kept behind it,” he said.

Different sites were dug up on three different days but the excavation
could not lead to the alleged tunnel. The modern equipment will help
find out, if there were something, the size, depth and position of
jewellery, gold and artifacts. It will also locate anomalies under the
ground including tunnels, graves or bunkers.

Vasanth Kumar told this correspondent that the excavation would
continue after receiving expert advice from NMDC and Archaeological
Survey of India. “Any treasure or mineral below the ground belongs to
the government. We will decide on the future course of action based on
the outcome of the excavation,” he added.

City police has been providing round the clock security cover at the
excavation site. Two police guards have been positioned at the spot
apart from patrolling teams and
back up.

Central Zone Deputy Commissioner of Police Mr Tarun Joshi said, "we
have received a
request from Department of Archaeology to provide security”.

Master brains: A teacher in a tribal residential school in a remote area in Khammam district has devised four working models that could issue early warning about an impending earthquake

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: A teacher in a tribal residential school in a
remote area in Khammam district has devised four working models that
could issue early warning about an impending earthquake. Early warning
for earthquakes helps in saving human life and damage to property
through fire triggered by burning ovens in kitchens and short circuit
in electrical appliances.
Mr K Mallikarjuna Rao, a teacher in Andhra Pradesh Tribal Welfare
Residential School at Kinnerasani dam site in the forest area of
Khammam district, won a national award at the recent National Teachers
Science Congress. His innovative early warning systems for earthquake
were also selected for presentation at the 99th Indian Science
Congress last month.
“Earthquake triggers seismic waves and these waves can be recorded a
few moments before we feel the physical shaking. If we could alert
people as soon as the seismic waves are felt, it leaves sufficient
time to switch off electrical appliances and put off ovens and stoves.
People can also come into the open before the ground starts shaking.
This will prevent loss to life and damage to property,” Mr
Mallikarjuna Rao said.
Mallikarjuna Rao’s earthquake early warning works on water waves,
magnetism, a dug up bore well and a glass beaker. The magnetism model
records the changes in the earth’s magnetic field due to an impending
earthquake. The bore well system triggers an alarm whenever there are
seismic disturbances inside the earth, while the water waves model
helps in recording the change in the wave pattern caused by an
The magnetic earthquake-warning model involves digging a large pit in
a room away from vehicular disturbances. A 12-inch bar magnet is
placed in the pit. A thick white paper is placed over the bar magnet.
Iron powder is poured on it. Once the magnetic lines are formed, they
are recorded and fed to a computer. The computer keeps an eye on the
magnetic lines and any change in them is recorded.
“Earth is an enormous magnet. The magnetic field of the earth is
disturbed during an earthquake. My model is quite simple and easy for
implementation even in remote areas,” he pointed out.
Mallikarjuna Rao has also come out with measures that would minimise
the loss to property during earthquakes. His suggestions include
digging holes deep into the earth touching the tectonic plates and
pumping water to covert the lava/magma inside into a solid substance.
This hard substance will stop the movement of tectonic places, thus
controlling the intensity of the earthquake.

Popular vegetables like tomato, brinjal, Amaranthus (thotakura) and spinach (palak) are contaminated by heavy metals with the potential to accumulate in different body parts

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Researchers have found that popular vegetables like
tomato, brinjal, Amaranthus (thotakura) and spinach (palak) are
contaminated by heavy metals with the potential to accumulate in
different body parts.
Vegetables grown in rural areas are relatively less contaminated than
those cultivated in urban and industrial localities. The heavy metals
found in vegetables included zinc, copper, lead, nickel, chromium,
cobalt, iron and manganese.
“Heavy metal contamination of vegetables cannot be underestimated, as
these foodstuffs are important components of human diet. Intake of
vegetables contaminated with heavy metals may pose a risk to the human
health because of their non-biodegradable nature, long biological
half-lives and their potential to accumulate in different body parts.
Therefore, health risk assessment gives information about the threat
posed by heavy metals in vegetables,” said Mr Penmethsa Kiran Kumar
from the department of chemistry, Government College for Women,
Mr Kiran Kumar and his team collected tomatoes, Amaranthus, spinach
and brinjal from fields and markets and analysed them for heavy metal
contamination. The contamination for various metals ranged from 0.067
to 1.03 mg per kg in case of zinc, 0.030 to 0.70 copper, 0.012 to
0.048 lead, 0.008 to 0.03 (nickel), 0.16 to 0.45 chromium, 0.0003 to
0.0011 cobalt, 0.21 to 0.51 iron and 0.03 to 0.09 mg/kg for manganese.
“Our study highlights that both children and adults consuming
vegetables ingest significant amount of these metals. Though the
values of the metals were well below the recommended tolerable levels
proposed by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on food additives,
regular monitoring of levels of these metals in vegetables is
essential to prevent excessive build up in the food chain,” he pointed
Heavy metals exhibit neurotoxic (damage to nervous system), mutagenic
(causing mutations), teratogenic (birth defects) and carcinogenic
(causing cancers) effects even at very low concentrations. Their
exposure may lead to several diseases like cardiovascular, tubular
dysfunction in kidneys, immunological disorders and nervous disorders
due to metal toxicity.
Mr Kiran Kumar said contamination of vegetables with heavy metal might
be due to irrigation with contaminated water, the addition of
fertilizers, metal-based pesticides, sewage sludge, organic manures
and composts, industrial emissions, vehicular emissions,
transportation, the harvesting process, storage and /or at point of
sale. As plants acquire the necessary nutrients such as nitrogen,
phosphorous and potassium, they also take in and accumulate metals
such as lead and cadmium. The heavy metals are taken up by the roots
or foliage of the plant.

With climate change affecting important vegetable crops, researchers from Kakatiya and Osmania Universities have successfully developed tomato varieties that outsmart the global warming and withstand the onslaught of various pests

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: With climate change affecting important vegetable
crops, researchers from Kakatiya and Osmania Universities have
successfully developed tomato varieties that outsmart the global
warming and withstand the onslaught of various pests.
Climate change is turning semi arid areas into arid zones affecting
productivity of vegetable and fruit crops that are sensitive to
drought and pest stress. Using transgenic technology, researchers from
Kakatiya University, Warangal, have produced tomatoes that can survive
in drought conditions and in soils affected by salinity. Mr N Rama
Swamy of Kakatiya University teamed up with M Praveen of Ohio State
University, Ohio, USA, to develop salt tolerant tomato. Thanks to
persistent drought and indiscriminate use of chemical fertilizers and
pesticides, fields in many places have turned either saline or
alkaline. The climate change has only added to the problem, affecting
the over all production of horticultural crops.
They selected tomato because it is a model species for introduction of
agronomically important genes. It contains vitamin A, rich in vitamin
C and source for lycopene, which is the most powerful antioxidant that
could fight cancers. Though it has importance in the daily food, as
vegetable and medicine, the crop cannot be grown in drought prone areas.
The researchers induced salt tolerance in tomato after molecular
cloning. The tomato variety is capable of growing in saline and
drought prone areas.
In a separate research, a team comprising S Anil Kumar, P Hima Kumari
and PB Kavi Kishor from the department of genetics, Osmania
University, induced resistance in tomato to various fungal pathogens
through transgenic engineering. Tomatoes are usually attacked by
various fungal pathogens causing wilt and early blight. They used
Osmotin and Chitinase genes to make tomato resistant to pests. This
will reduce use of artificial pesticides. The borrowed genes from
bacterium, Agrobacterium tumefaciens.

Andhra Pradesh State Wakf Board cracks the whip against Ahmadiya (Qadiyani) properties

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, Feb 18: The Andhra Pradesh State Wakf Board has cracked the
whip against Ahmadiyas, denotifying four religious places belonging to
the sect.
Muslim religious leaders have declared Ahmadiya or Qadiyani community
as non-Muslim and there has been a demand from Ulema to derecognize
the Wakf properties belonging to the group. The Wakf Board on Saturday
decided to remove four places of worship of Ahmadiya sect from the
Wakf properties list.
The belief of Ahmadiya sect goes against the Muslim belief on the
finality of the Prophethood, and therefore Muslim religious scholars
declared the sect as non-Muslim.
Wakf Board chairman Syed Shah Ghulam Afzal Biyabani said the four
properties removed from the Wakf list are Ahmedi Jubilee Hall at
Afzalgunj, Anwar Manzil and Baitul Irshad at Barkatpura and Masjid
Chinna Kunta in Mahbubnagar. He said the Board took the decision, as
Ahmadiyas are not Muslims. The Board has asked the State government to
take control of these places of worship or hand them over to the
Endowment Department.
He said Board decided to take a mosque at Falaknuma under its direct
management. Though the mosque is a Sunni Muslim property, Qadiyanis
manage it. Muslim qazis have been told not to perform the marriages of

Treasure hunt in Hyderabad: Archaeology team takes up excavation in search of hidden treasure trove opposite State Secretariat

By Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: A major treasure hunt is now on in the city right
opposite the State Secretariat, and gestimates put it at anything
upward of Rs 20,000 crore.
The State Archaeology Department will take up excavation of an area
supposedly an old tunnel to find out the treasure trove. The operation
jewel hunt will begin at 8.00 am on Sunday. The department conducted a
preliminary survey of the area on Saturday evening amidst tight
According to sources, the Archaeology Department received a sworn-in
affidavit from nine prominent citizens led by Mr DS Rama Raju, an official in the

Coal India Limited, stating that they had
reliable information about a treasure trove in a hidden tunnel on the
premises of a school in front of the State Secretariat. They said they
got the information about two months ago and could not muster enough
courage to reveal it to the authorities concerned for fear of Mafia
Based on the affidavit, a team of officials from the Archaeology
Department inspected the site on Saturday evening. They decided to
take up excavation on Sunday morning in the presence of a mason, who
will serve as a guide. Sources said the mason was the first person to
have gone inside the tunnel where he saw two almirahs full of jewels
and precious stones. The mason confided this with his friends in his
village and the information finally reached Mr Raju and other
prominent citizens.
It is believed that there is a small staircase and this leads to the
tunnel like structure behind the compound wall of the school abutting
the Naubat Pahad (Birla Mandir hill). The school building itself is
about 100 years ago and city historians say there was a small cave in
the hill. The tunnel is said to be 12 ft in height and 12 ft in
breadth. Prof P Channa Reddy, State Treasure Trove officer, will
supervise the excavation work.
According to city historian Dr Mohammad Safiullah, many rich families
had built bunkers during the World War II to avoid air strikes by
Japan. One such bunker was unearthed in the nearby Home Science
College in Saifabad. Similar bunkers were also found in the Mint
Compound. As many as a dozen iron safes were recovered from these
bunkers. All of them were empty.
The school building belongs to the heirs of Wanaparthi Samsthan, who
were feudatives of the Nizam. The Samsthan had owned more than one
lakh acres of land and its royal members were quite rich. This gives
credence to the treasure trove theory that a royal member had secretly
kept the jewels and precious stones.
Incidentally, the prominent citizens, who had petitioned the
Archaeology Department, had demanded that they be given their share –
one-fifth of the treasure trove if it were found – under the Treasure
Trove Act 1878.

Treasure hunt in Hyderabad: State Archaeology department digs up school in search of a tunnel with suspected treasure trove

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad:  The State Archaeology Department will continue with
the excavation work on the premises of a school in Saifabad on Monday
in search of a supposedly hidden treasure. The department launched the
operation treasure hunt on Sunday morning, but could dig up only two
feet by 4.00 pm.

As the manual excavation was going on at a snail’s pace, officials
pressed into service an earthmover in the evening. Another two feet
was dug up by 9.00 pm when the work was called off for the day. The
work will resume on Monday morning. Sunday’s excavation site is about
10 metres away from the original site selected on Saturday evening.
Mallesh, the mason, who claims he had seen the treasure, guided the
officials to the spot.

Meanwhile, the group of nine prominent citizens, which submitted a
sworn affidavit to the archaeology department about the alleged
treasure, continued to maintain that four of them had entered the
tunnel that led them to an iron gate. Mallesh said he saw the treasure
hidden in two almirahs, while the petitioners said they did not go
beyond the iron gate.

Coal India official DS Rama Raju, one of the signatories of the affidavit,
told this correspondent that he and others had in fact gone into the
tunnel. “The entrance is quite narrow. A few steps down the ground led
us to a tunnel where we saw an iron gate. We did not venture beyond
this point. Unfortunately, we did not mark the place. It is on the
hill side and excavation along the rocky terrain on the school
premises will definitely lead to the tunnel,” Raju said.

Asked if he had seen the treasure, Raju said “no”, but maintained, “we
would know whether there’s treasure only after we open the iron gate.”
However, he is confident that there is hidden treasure as Mallesh and
other masons had “seen with their own eyes”. The archaeology
department is also planning to contact some of the masons, who were
involved in the construction of a hotel nearby. During the digging
work, the mason along with Mallesh reportedly saw the treasure. That
all the signatories and Mallesh stayed at the site all through the day
gives credence to their statement about the treasure, a senior
official of the department said.

The police made elaborate security arrangement at the school premises
as hundreds of people gathered there to witness the excavation. The
police had a hectic time controlling the surging crowds.

Officials encountered loose soil at the excavation site. It is
suspected that someone might have entered the tunnel recently and
covered it up. If the mason and other “eyewitnesses” fail to locate
the exact spot where they had seen the tunnel, the excavation may go
on for at least a week.

There are city records that a cave existed in the area and it was
covered up with soil, as it had no historical or archaeological
significance. The area around is famous for the bunkers built during
the world war II. Similar treasure excavations in the area in the past
yielded only empty iron almirahs.

10 years of Gujarat: For thousands of victims of the worst-ever communal carnage in Gujarat a decade ago, Hyderabad has become the second home, where they love to cherish the selfless hospitality of Hyderabadis

Syed Akbar

Hyderabad: For thousands of victims of the worst-ever communal carnage in Gujarat 
a decade ago, Hyderabad has become the second home, where they love to cherish the 
selfless hospitality of Hyderabadis. The city welcomed with open arms the victims of 
Gujarat riots in 2002 with unparallel relief and rehabilitation schemes including special 
and customized sessions of .counselling to help them overcome the psychological trauma 
and physical shock.

Hyderabadis spent at least Rs 200 crore towards building pucca houses, providing 
education and setting up business establishments for the benefit of riot victims. Members 
of the Bohra, Ismaili, Memon and other Muslim communities migrated to Hyderabad and other 
parts of south India after the communal carnage in Gujarat 10 years ago.

Several Muslim philanthropist organizations had taken up the responsibility of educating 
the children of the victims, and providing financial aid to open shops in Hyderabad. A 
majority of the victims were rich but their properties were destroyed by rioters. Free 
legal aid was offered to help the victims fight compensation and other legal cases 
including obtaining bail for innocent people lodged in jail on false charges

Teams from Hyderabad went to Gujarat where they constructed housing colonies. Some of the 
groups had worked for even six months to boost the morale of the victims. About 2000 
families had migrated to the city. In one single case 100 families, which had settled 
down in Gujarat for ages, had returned to their native village in Mahbubnagar district 
following the riots. A housing colony was built for them from the Zakat funds collected 
from Hyderabadis.

“Hyderabad is now my home and I have settled here with family. The riots had left me 
penniless and had support not come from Hyderabad, I would have been on the streets now. 
Thanks to Hyderabad, I am well placed,” says a middle aged businessman, who came to the 
city in June 2002. The local jamaat extended him financial support to set up a garments 

A trader from Bohra community narrowly escaped the attacking rioters and came to 
Hyderabad in March 2002.He initially stayed at a relief camp in the city and when help 
reached him, he launched his business here. “It was all nightmare. I do not want to 
recollect it now,” he adds

The Salama School in Tolichowki stood as the single largest benefactor of children of 
displaced riot victims. “We offered education to 720 children, including many girls. 
Thanks to the initial succor we had provided them, some of the students are now in 
professional postgraduate courses like M Pharmacy and M Tech,” says a representative of 
the school. She wants to remain anonymous for obvious reasons. According to Dr 
Ifthikharuddin of Mesco, they provided help to about 250 students in their school.

“The riots were unprecedented. So was the mental trauma and torture for the survivors. 
Some of them, particularly youngsters, still wake up in sleep in horror and shock. The 
victims had to be provided special counseling to boost their morale. Special counseling 
sessions were conducted for the victims, particularly those who had escaped narrowly or 
those who watched their own kin and property being attacked, killed or looted,” recalls 
Mr. Mubashir who was involved in relief and rehabilitation works for six months.

City philanthropists also arranged physiotherapy sessions for the victims to overcome the 
physical trauma. The Hyderabad Zakat and Charitable Trust concentrated rehabilitation in 
Gujarat where it constructed a colony for the victims. Siasat too built a housing colony 
in Gujarat.

10 years of Gujarat riots: Andhra Pradesh continues to receive students from Gujarat

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad: Hyderabad continues to attract hundreds of Muslim students from 
Gujarat every academic year even a decade after the country’s worst communal riots in the 
aftermath of the Godhra train burning episode.

The exodus has not stopped 10 years on. Many Muslim families in Gujarat believe Hyderabad 
is a safe place for their children to pursue education in a peaceful atmosphere, free of 
communal bias. Moreover, the special economic package offered by the Andhra Pradesh 
government to Muslim students coupled with four per cent reservations has been attracting 
poor Gujarati Muslims to Hyderabad and other cities in the State.

Rough estimates put the number of Gujarati Muslim students in various educational 
institutions in the State at about 2000 including 400 in professional colleges. Not only 
these students get fee reimbursement, but also scholarships from the Central and the 
State governments. These economic benefits are a dream for them back home in their native 

Soon after the Gujarat riots in February 2002 about 1000 Muslim students, including those 
whose parents were killed, were rehabilitated in a few schools in Hyderabad. The Muslim 
Educational, Social and Cultural Organisation, the Hyderabad Zakat and Charitable Trust, 
the Salama School and several Muslim charitable and educational bodies took the 
initiative to provide them the best of education. Some of these students have left for 
Gujarat after secondary education, while a majority of them are pursuing higher education 
including engineering, medicine, pharmacy, and business management.

Says Abdul Sattar, 20, a student pursuing pharmacy in a local college, “I came to 
Hyderabad four years after the riots as my parents wanted me to study in peace and 
without any religious bias. I feel quite secure here and there’s no sense of communal 
fear in the city. Moreover, the standards here are quite high. Now I am local student and 
get the economic benefits offered to Muslim students by the State government”.

In contrast Mansur Parvez, 21, is a victim of the communal carnage. He was brought to the 
city by a philanthropist organization, Salama Educational Society, in 2004. He completed 
his SSC at Salama School, intermediate at New Quantum Junior School, and he is in third 
year B.Tech in an engineering college.

Recalling the worst-ever communal carnage in the history of independent India, Parwez 
says he was studying eighth standard in a government high school, in Gujarati medium in 
Ahmedabad. After the incident he couldn’t continue his education for almost two years 
till Salama Educational Society brought him to Hyderabad.

“I just want to forget those sad moments. I am quite happy with Hyderabad and its people 
are good. When I came to the city I barely spoke English and knew only Gujarati and bit 
of Hindi/Urdu. Though I had done my eighth standard in Gujarat, I joined here in the 
seventh standard in an English medium school,” he points out.

Explaining why some Gujarati Muslims still prefer Hyderabad, social worker and religious 
scholar Moulana Hafiz Shujat Hussain says the economic benefits being offered to Muslims 
in Andhra Pradesh has made all the difference. “Our students have benefited from the fee 
reimbursement and scholarship schemes. This has given such a great psychological 
advantage to poor Muslims in the State that Muslim parents in other States too want to 
benefit, and thus they do not hesitate to send their children for education here,” the 
Moulana observes.

Like many other students hit by riots, Mohammad Moin had to struggle a lot to learn 
English, Telugu and Hindi. “But thanks to our teachers we got more than 70 per cent marks 
in SSC. There were many students who came to the city along with me. Most of them have 
returned since. Some of them have completed BCom and BSc in Hyderabad”.

The students have not yet decided whether to return to their State and settle there. “We 
have been visiting our parents in Gujarat twice a year. We would love to stay back in 
Andhra Pradesh. But we miss parents, brothers and sisters,” is their common refrain.
Says Dr Ifthikharuddin of Mesco, “During 2002-03 we brought around 250 students from 
different parts of Gujarat. They were from different age groups but mostly the students 
were in fifth to seventh standard. We provided them education till matriculation and 
later on some of them went back to Gujarat and we were told that some of them stayed back 
for higher education here.”

A majority of those who stayed back have done vocational courses. Some are in engineering 
colleges. The children had education in Gujarati medium and they were bright in 
academics. It was a tough task for them to get adjusted to the routine in Hyderabad 
including food and syllabus.

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This Day In History

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Syed Akbar in an island in river Godavari with Papikonda hills in the background

Recognition by World Vegetable Centre

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Syed Akbar at the 11th Conference of Parties to the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity