Banganga Tank set for a major revamp | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Banganga Tank set for a major revamp

ByYesha Kotak, Mumbai
Nov 05, 2019 12:12 AM IST

From new infrastructure to restoration of temples and deepstambh, Banganga, the only stepped water tank in the city which has 108 temples dotting its boundary, is all set to undergo a major revamp.

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The project will be carried out under the Maharashtra Vaibhav State Protected Monuments Adoption Scheme (MVSPMAS), which encourages private agencies to adopt heritage areas.

Banganga has been adopted by RPG Foundation, which has commissioned conservation architect Abha Narian Lambah to handle the project.

“The restoration work would begin soon. Remains such as ashes and hair from religious practices are deposited in the tank. It was last desilted in 1989,” said Lambah.

“The focus is managing solid waste in and around the tank, so the desilting can begin. We have planned an alternative site for religious practices, so the tank stays clean after restoration,” she said.

Archaeologists date the tank, measuring 143x57 metres, to the ninth century and legends link it to the Skanda Purana of Ramayana.

It is also the oldest and largest surviving religious centre in the island city, and is believed to have been built by a
minister of Shilahara dynasty, a royal clan that established itself in northern and southern Konkan.

In October 1991, the state archaeological department listed the tank under the Protected Monuments Act, following which a conservation committee was formed under the chairmanship of municipal commissioner.

In April 1995, the site was declared a heritage precinct under a notification of the state urban development department.

“The tank area gives a feel of Benares in Mumbai, and that’s how we plan to restore it. In the 1990s, after the site was declared a protected monument, musical concerts were organised there. There is a park next to the
tank. We plan to build an amphitheatre and revive the events, so it becomes a major tourism site,” Lambah said.

Trustees of Goud Saraswat Brahmin (GSB) trust, which manages the site, said their aim was to make Banganga “clean and pure”.

“The property is declared heritage, so we can’t carry out any civil work. The state has to sanction funds in its budget to carry out any civil work in heritage properties,” said Shashank Gulgule, holding trustee and secretary of GSB trust.

“The heritage department has so far restructured steps on two sides of the tank,” said Gulgule.

According to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the state and RPG Foundation a month ago, the foundation will adopt the site for 10 years.

The initial conservation work will be carried out at
a cost of 5-6 crore over two years.

Tejas Garge, director, Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, said, “At least 2.5 crore were spent on the earlier restoration projects in the past decade, when damaged basalt stones on the stairway to the tank were changed. There is a plan to revamp the BMC
dispensary and give it a sloping roof.”

According to agencies involved in the restoration work, the project is tough as it involves people living at the spot, who will have to be consulted.

“We will first clear encroachments around the tank. There is a plan to provide them with an alternative accommodation. We will also lay paver blocks on the path leading to the tank,” said Praveen Pardeshi, municipal commissioner.

Radha Goenka, director, RPG Foundation, said they decided to adopt the site when they visited the tank to conduct the last rites of a family member.

“For years, there were plans to restore the tank to its original glory, but the government
was facing various challenges. Considering that a corporate should divert 2% of CSR
funds towards heritage, we thought there was no better site than Banganga,” Goenka
said.

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