BMC goes that extra mile to restore 200-year-old markers in Mumbai
The BMC will restore the 11 identified milestones, which are grade 1 heritage structures, to their original form, replace the four missing ones with representative structuresUpdated: Jul 08, 2018 00:35 IST
Over the past 200 years, four of the 15 milestones installed across Mumbai between 1817 and 1837, as distance markers for travellers in the city limits, have gone missing. The remaining 11, which have been identified by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation’s (BMC) heritage cell, have either been hidden under layers of roads or damaged due to encroachments around it.
In a first, the BMC will restore the 11 identified milestones, which are grade 1 heritage structures, to their original form, replace the four missing ones with representative structures, and beautify the surrounding area. Even though work on restoration of five out of 11 identified milestones has already started, BMC will rework on these to maintain uniformity.
A senior civic official from the heritage department said, “We will remove the stone from the pit if it is buried, clean it and restore it. We will surround the area with a cobblestone pavement to maintain the heritage look, set up an information plaque and illuminate the stone. We are working on them as per methods prescribed by the heritage committee.”
Conservation architect Tapan Mittal-Deshpande, who is presently working with BMC to restore four milestones, said, “We have been using a very simple method to clean the milestone of layers of paint, if any. In the restoration process, we shift the milestone to a safe location to restore the damage and clean up the area where it was found. Once it is restored at the original place, we keep minimal vertical installations around the milestone, in order to draw focus on the structure.”
Between 1817 and 1837 in British India, 15 milestones were installed across Mumbai between St Thomas Cathedral — the ‘zero point’ of the city and Sion, which was eight miles from the Cathedral and considered as the farthermost point or the city limit. These milestones were three-feet-tall so that passers-by in carriages could spot them. At least one of the milestones, marked ‘III’, was installed before 1817, and has not yet been located.
In April 2017, BMC stumbled upon a V milestone in Parel during a demolition drive. It then began to locate the remaining milestones. The official quoted above said, “There is an old map that marks 15 milestones. On the basis of this map, we began to locate the milestones at respective locations.”
As part of the restoration process, BMC will also set up a zero point marker at St Thomas Cathedral, along with a map of the milestones. The project is likely to take six months to complete, and will be carried out at a cost of ₹20 lakh.
First Published: Jul 08, 2018 00:35 IST