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Monday, July 17, 2017

Trekker groups, NGOs to soon adopt forts

Trekker groups, voluntary organisations and NGOs will soon be able to adopt forts for their maintenance and upkeep.

The state's Directorate of Archaeology and Museums is planning to allow such groups to repair and restore the 350-odd forts across Maharashtra.

"We feel that NGOs and groups working for the conservation of forts must get the opportunity to handle the upkeep of these monuments. The possibility of involving them in the effort is being looked at," said Tejas Garge, Director, Directorate of Archaeology and Museums.

He added they were planning to call for applications from such voluntary groups and then allocate forts to them for upkeep.

These organisations will have to construct approach roads, clear the vegetation, clean the fort and its precinct, ensure tourist management and prevent wrong-doing. But, they will not be given ticketing rights.

"They will not be able to conduct any work on the structures as it requires the intervention of experts," said Garge.

While the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the state government have recognised just 100 of the 353 forts in Maharashtra as protected monuments, others are crumbling due to lack of preservation.

While the ASI controls 51 forts of national importance like Raigad, Janjira and Sindhudurg, the department is in-charge of 49 like Sinhagad, Rajgad, Naldurg, Paranda, Salher and Mulher.

Garge added that they had allocated work on conservation and restoration of the Naldurg fort in Osmanabad to a Solapur-based corporate under a conservation adoption scheme. Here, corporates can spend on the conservation of these monuments in return for ticketing rights.

"However, the government has strict rules like the turnover required, which leads to few companies coming forward," an official said.

The directorate has 371 monuments in its ambit, including 153 temples, 49 forts, 20 caves and 149 other sites like the Banganga caves and the Gateway of India, but has to manage with just 98 security guards.

It is planning to add 88 more forts to its list of protected sites, including 33 in the Pune division.

The Maharashtra Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act, 1960, allows the state government to preserve ancient and historical monuments, records and archaeological sites and remains.


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