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Wednesday, Nov 13, 2019

Maharashtra forts: Promote heritage tourism, but with regulations, say experts from Pune

Certain regulations and limitations while promoting the heritage is a must to prevent further destruction of the forts in the state, said Joshi. 

pune Updated: Sep 08, 2019 16:09 IST
Parth Welankar
Parth Welankar
Hindustan Times, Pune
According to Joshi, the government has not called for any consultation or recommendations from the committee members or historians. 
According to Joshi, the government has not called for any consultation or recommendations from the committee members or historians. (HT image)
         

The Maharashtra government’s move to convert 25 forts into heritage hotels and venues for weddings has been receiving flak not only from the political opponents, but also from experts in the field.

“The state government’s announcement of redeveloping forts without proper consultation of experts and the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI)and behaving ignorant to the possible eventual repercussions to it, is a move totally uncalled for,” said Sachin Joshi, member of the fort conservation committee constituted by the government of Maharashtra. 

Certain regulations and limitations while promoting the heritage is a must to prevent further destruction of the forts in the state, said Joshi. 

According to Joshi, the government has not called for any consultation or recommendations from the committee members or historians. 

He said, “We are not against promoting heritage tourism, however, this is not the correct approach to do so. The government must create a concrete plan, analysing all the factors such as monument carrying capacity, increasing vigilance over the forts to prevent any kind of damage caused to it by unidentified suspects, among other things. However, instead of taking the proper route, the government has just announced its plan.” 

Under the new policy, the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) will give at least 300 forts to private players on a revenue-sharing formula or a one-time premium. 

Some of the forts which can be included in the conversion plan into hotels or venues for weddings are Mangad fort, Vishramgad fort, Palgad fort, Malhargad fort, Sadashivgad fort and Vasantgad fort.

Historian Mandar Lawate came down heavily on the government’s proposal to convert forts into heritage hotels and venue weddings and said, “The government must revoke their decision to promote tourism in this manner by allowing weddings on it.” 

He added, “This model of promoting tourism on forts without proper vigilance will only lead to hooliganism on the forts. Besides, it will destroy the cultural richness of these forts. I do not support such kind of development.” 

Various opposition parties stage a protest at Babasaheb Ambedkar chowk in Pimpri on Saturday.
Various opposition parties stage a protest at Babasaheb Ambedkar chowk in Pimpri on Saturday. ( HT/PHOTO )

NCP stages agitation against state government’s fort policy

The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) on Saturday staged an agitation against the state government’s policy to ‘lease out’ forts under the heritage tourism policy.

The move by the Maharashtra government to privatise over two dozen hill forts and even open them for private functions such as weddings stirred up a major political row with the potential to snowball into an election issue on Friday.

NCP workers held a protest in front of the historical Shaniwarwada, carrying placards with the slogans, ‘Shaniwarwada available on rent for marriage, thread ceremony and name ceremony’.

NCP city unit president Chetan Tupe; spokesperson Ankush Kakade; state women wing president Rupali Chakankar and former mayor Prashant Jagtap were present during the agitation.

“As per the state’s new tourism policy, historical forts would be leased out. We oppose this policy,” snubbed Tupe and Jagtap.

“There are three types of forts. Forts of the first type are linked to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the second type of forts are those with historical importance, which are looked after by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI),” Maharashtra tourism minister Jaykumar Rawal said.

“There is a third category in which there are some forts which are located across the state and are neglected and in shambles. To look after such forts, the work of drafting a policy is going on. Under that policy, such structures can be adopted, repaired and facilities such as museum, light-and-sound show can be provided,” the minister said.

The reports that such forts will be given on rent for weddings and other events are baseless, Rawal added.

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis clearly stated that forts associated with Chhatrapati Shivaji will not come under this policy. The CM added that forts which come under the ASI’s jurisdiction will also not come under this policy.

Grade 2 category

Forts which fall in grade two category would be given for development of tourism like Yashwantgad (Ratnagiri), Nivati (Sindudurg), Naldurga (Osmanabad), Kandhar(Nanded), Nagardhan (Nagpur), Laling (Dhule) and Parola (Jalgaon), among others.