Maha Minister of Cultural Affairs issues orders to conserve forts and free them from encroachments

Various decisions with regard to conservation of forts in the meeting of associations interested in conserving forts, Department of Archaeology and people’s representatives

Mr Sunil Ghanwat, HJS Organiser Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh (left) presenting the petition to the Minister of Cultural Affairs, Mr Sudhir Mungantiwar

Minister of Cultural Affairs issues orders to administration to proactively conserve forts

Mr Mungantiwar issued orders to the Administration to send letters to all Collectors and Commissioners in the State to check Forts in their respective Districts and free them from the encroachments there.
Mr Mungantiwar contacted Rahul Rakhawar, the District Collector of Kolhapur and shared the information about encroachments on Vishalgad and issued orders to take immediate action on these encroachments. The Minister said that the people who have encroached upon the Fort must be allotted alternative living arrangements and that the encroachments must be cleared.

Mumbai –  A meeting of associations interested in conserving forts was called under the chairmanship of the Minister of Cultural Affairs, Mr Sudhir Mungantiwar.  Thane District BJP MLA Mr Sanjay Kelkar who took the initiative of calling for a meeting to discuss the conservation of forts in the State, Director of Department of Archaeology Mr Tejas Garge, Special Executive
Officer of Cultural Affairs Ministry Mr Sudhir Rathod, Mr Shramik Gojamgunde, Mr Yadnesh
Sumbare, Mr Chandrakant Patel, all of ‘Sahyadri Pratishthan’ which is involved in conservation of forts in the State, spokesperson of Vishalgarh Protection and Anti-Encroachment Action Committee and HJS Organiser Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh Sunil Ghanwat and officers of the Department Archaeology and Cultural Affairs were present.

Assurance of decisions over various problems of forts

Associations interested in conserving forts highlighted issues like the collapsing towers of many forts in the State, plights of cannons, etc. They also pleaded saying that the Archaeological department and the Administration did not appear to be doing their conservation work as expected. Some organisations were desirous of taking up the conservation of forts using private funds, but they have been waiting for requisite permissions for more than 4 years. The Minister sought separate proposals for each fort. Each fort’s issue would be discussed and appropriate decisions would be taken. If rules and regulations are being a bottleneck then they would be suitably amended to benefit the forts.

The stance of the Hindu Janajagruti Samiti regarding the plight of forts

HJS State Organiser for Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, Mr Sunil Ghanwat said that, apart from forts collapsing, encroachment is a very serious problem. More than 100 encroachments are found on Vishalgarh in Kolhapur. There is an effort to encroach Raigarh also. Graves of Muslims have cropped up in the Colaba Fort in Mumbai. Many such incidents are happening across the State. HJS along with like-minded organisations is putting up a fight to have these encroachments vacated.

Other orders

After realising the state of affairs, Minister Mr Mungantiwar took some other decisions. The orders passed are

1. The Archaeology department has been asked to produce a report of their human resources to ensure that the work does not suffer due to lack of manpower

2. They have been asked to present the exact legal obstacles which hamper the conservation of forts.

3. Formation of a state level committee of the workers engaged in work related to forts for their conservation.

4. Take decision of spending Rs 50 lakhs for forts and protected monuments from the MLA funds, make provision of 2% fund to be spent from Departments of Planning and Development

He also said that they will be looking into appointing guards to check disfiguring of forts, implement a fast track system for resolving issues within a month, writing a letter on behalf of the State Administration to the Prime Minister to avail Corporate Social Responsibility – CSR funds for 3 years; as well as organising a meeting of the Central Ministers and the associations engaged in conservation of forts.

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