A part of Vasai Fort collapsed due to heavy rain and a mudslide on Friday despite the conservation work on to restore the fort, thereby raising questions on the quality of work.
The collapse has forced the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) office to initiate immediate measures to strengthen the part of the fort and save it from complete collapse.
“If the ASI is saying the 18-20-ft high fort wall collapsed due to rains, it is quite amusing because forts and their walls were meant to protect them from natural calamities. It is because of ASI’s ignorance that the wall collapsed as several tree roots were weakening the wall,” said Sridatta Raut of Kille Vasai Mohim, a fort conservation project in Thane.
“We had been warning the ASI that the work being done here by contractors is not happening as per conservation procedures and this had to happen one day. It is sad that such a thing has happened with a significant historic monument,” Raut said.
“ASI is only spending money on religious buildings inside the fort and not on the fort itself. ASI has also set up air-conditioned offices inside the fort premise,” he pointed out.
To save further dilapidation, the ASI said they have drawn an action plan.
“The incident happened due to heavy rain. I instructed officials of the Vasai sub-circle to take immediate measures and finish the work by March 2011,” said M.S. Chauhan, superintending archaeologist with Mumbai Circle of the ASI.
Hindustan Times had reported on June 28 as to how historic inscriptions on the Portuguese fort at Vasai were being damaged and had been buried due to incorrect conservation practices.
“The ASI’s restoration project has been damaging the fort. First the ancient inscriptions were almost buried under sand and cement, then the fort was being plastered, looking like it was not being restored, but renovated,” Raut added.