August 4th, 2007, 10:07 PM
The Rs 3.5 crore project will allow for amphitheatre, promenades and a museum at the fort
There may be some hope for the dilapidated walls of the Sewri fort that are slowly succumbing to vandalism. The Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, Maharashtra recently launched a project called The Mumbai Fort Circuit to restore and conserve the long-neglected forts at the cost of Rs 8 crore. The project could soon see Sewri turn into the next big tourist hotspot in South Mumbai.
RN Hegde, director, Department of Archaeology and Museums, Mumbai says, “The department aims to develop the Sewri fort into a centre for cultural activities. Rs 3.5 crore has already been allocated to renovate the fort. Out of this, about Rs 1.2 crore will be spent towards restoration and conservation of the fort. We have allotted Rs 2.4 crore to beautify the place and construct public amenities.”
Built in 1680 by the British the fort stands on a quarried hill, near the Sewri railway station. The fort is believed to have housed prisoners initially but later was used as a godown by the Bombay Port Trust. Though the Sewri fort is listed as a grade I heritage structure its cracked, weather-beaten walls are covered by over-grown weeds and shrubs. Along the waterfront lie piles of garbage and the walls are often turned into urinals.
The renovation work will hopefully kick-start in a short while and it is expected to get completed within six months. The plan is divided into three phases. Phase I includes the cleaning of the site. Repair work will be undertaken in phase II and development of the vicinity will done in the third phase. Besides the usual restoration and conservation work, the fort will also have a mangrove park, an amphitheatre, a promenande similar to that at the Marine Drive, a museum, and a separate path that will offer birdwatchers a closer view of the flamingos that flock the Sewri bay.
The Government of India through Maharastra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) has funded the project that is going to give a face-lift to the forts shortly. Bhushan Gagrani, secretary, tourism and culture affairs, mentions, “The project is divided into two segments — the first includes the forts at Bandra, Worli, Sewri and Ghodbunder while the second will oversee the renovation of the Vasai and Mahim forts. The restoration of Worli and Bandra forts has already started.”
Mumbai’s forts will soon give malls and multiplexes stiff competition and become its latest tourist attractions.
Clearing the site
Repair work of the
Development of mangrove-park, amphitheatre, promenade, museum and an approach path to view flamingos
Rs 3.5 crore
Total amount allotted to restore the fort
Rs 1.2 crore
For restoration and conservation of the fort
Rs 2.4 crore
For beautification and public amenities
Rs 8 crore
Projected cost of The Mumbai Fort Circuit Project