The civic body’s plans to beautify the area around the Sion Fort – which is a world heritage site – and the garden at the foot of it, has hit a stumbling block.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) has rejected the proposal submitted by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), in which it listed steps to beautify the Nehru Garden and areas around the fort.
The BMC wanted to convert the Nehru Garden into a theme-based garden, which would require additional construction to be undertaken. They also wanted to connect the garden and the fort through a walkway, create a stone mural that depicted the seven islands that came to constitute Mumbai, make arrangements for sequence seating in the garden and set up a canteen.
The restoration of the fort, which once marked the boundary between the British-owned Parel Island and the Portuguese-owned Salsette Island, had begun in 2009 but was stopped mid-way due to paucity of funds.
“We want the area of be developed, but according to the norms of the ASI, we cannot allow new construction and the addition of new structures around a certain radius of the fort,” said MS Chauhan, an ASI archaeologist.
Sanjay Kurhade, assistant municipal commissioner of the F-North ward said that until further orders from the ASI, the beautification proposal will be held back. “Until the ASI gives us a No Objection Certificate, we cannot begin the project,” he said.
Chauhan said that the BMC could undertake minor repairs to maintain the garden. But other officials said the BMC had started work of repairing a damaged portion of a walkway without their permission and they were issued a stop-work notice. Residents opine that the fort is in a state of ruins. “The ASI, instead of scrapping the plan, should have assisted the BMC in chalking out a plan that would match their specifications,” said Veena Sagar, who lives opposite the fort.