Monday Musings: Will PMC explain neglect of newly-restored monument ?
Restored beautifully at a cost of around Rs 37 lakh barely four months ago, the Pune Zero Stone monument has suffered neglect from Pune Municipal Corporation’s Dhole Patil road ward office.Updated: Jan 06, 2020 15:57 IST
Four months ago, on September 6, 2019, Pune municipal commissioner Saurabh Rao was invited by senior city Congressman Arvind Shinde to inaugurate a newly-restored heritage site in the city. This was the Zero Mile Stone monument on the footpath in front of the Greater Post Office (GPO) at Vaswani chowk.
The nearly 150-year-old Zero Stone had been all, but lost to the city because of neglect over the decades. After a vigorous campaign, especially by this newspaper, Shinde took up the restoration of this heritage structure as it was located in his ward. The work was undertaken by architect Abhijit Kondhalkar who not only restored the mile stone but also beautified the entire footpath with a number of installations associated with the great trigonometric survey of India.
On the day the monument was inaugurated, the area residents expressed happiness and felt proud of this monument in their neighbourhood. None less than the Surveyor General of India, Lt Gen Girish Kumar, sent a congratulatory message.
Over the last four months, people walking on that footpath have been looking at the installations with curiosity, taking pictures and selfies. A number of congratulatory messages have been posted on social media as a “must visit site in Pune”. One Premkumar Punjabi posted: “This place is wonderfully redone…Looks like from zero point to selfie point.”
Just last week, however, this footpath wore a sorry look as was reported by this newspaper.
The giant marble inscription tablet right in front of the heritage stone looked unwashed with a thick layer of grime. Another few weeks of neglect and the damage would be near-permanent. There were blotches of pigeon droppings on some of the installations. A few focus lights were damaged and the granite benches, so thoughtfully installed, looked un-inviting because they had not been washed and cleaned.
When asked about this state of neglect, PMC’s Dhole Patil road ward officer Dayanand Sonkamble claimed that the monument was being cleaned and maintained daily and that they could do little to stop the miscreants and beggars from damaging the focus lights, wires and fixtures.
This claim by the ward officer was promptly countered as a falsehood by a highly reliable expert associated with the monument. This expert noted that the ward office was not only shirking its duty, but that even the contractor had failed to put “landscape patches in the dedicated landscape zones.”
“It will only require 3,000 rupees a month and one person to keep the space clean,” he noted, stating that if the civic body with an annual budget of Rs 6,700 crore found it difficult “to do such a small task, then it is a sad state of affairs.”
Let’s hope our civic officials wake up, take notice, and initiate prompt corrective action.