Won’t convert Shivaji’s forts into heritage hotels: Maharashtra clarifies stance
After the Maharashtra government’s move to convert 25 forts into heritage hotels and venues for weddings received flak from the Opposition and the Maratha community, the state clarified its stance on Friday and said it would not touch the forts under the protected list of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI).
Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said, “No permission has been or would be given for forts built by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. These are protected forts. No government has worked like ours to develop the Raigad Fort, which was the capital of the Maratha warrior king.”
Under the new policy, the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) will give around 300 forts to private players on a revenue-sharing formula or a one-time premium. Former chief minister Ashok Chavan slammed the state and said, “ The BJP government is seeking votes in the name of Shivaji, but has decided to sell off these forts.”
Chhatrapati Sambhaji Raje, 13th direct descent of Shivaji and Rajya Sabha MP, met Fadnavis on Friday to oppose the policy. Sambhaji Raje vowed to not allow the forts to be converted into hotels. “These forts are sacred to us and such a decision will hurt the followers of Shivaji.”
BJP’s ally Shiv Sena too cautioned the state. “If the government goes ahead and includes forts built or conquered by Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, then Shiv Sena will oppose it,” said Manisha Kayande, Sena spokesperson.
However, state tourism secretary Vinita Singhal said only forts that do not have historical significance will be chosen for the project.
State tourism minister Jaykumar Rawal said the aim is to save the forts that are in a dilapidated condition. “There are forts in a dilapidated condition. These are not built by Shivaji Maharaj or the ones with ASI, they are with the revenue department and MTDC. A policy to maintain such forts has been prepared.”