Restoration work ruining Vasai fort, says activist

Historic inscriptions on the 500-year-old Portuguese fort at Vasai are being damaged due to the Archaeological Survey of India’s (ASI) wrong conservation practices, local residents have alleged.

“The ASI’s restoration project is damaging the fort. The ancient inscriptions on the premises of the fort have almost been buried under sand and cement,” said Sridutta Raut, a member of Kille Vasai Mohim, an amateur local history group that looks after the fort.

The fort is being plastered and it looks like it is not being restored but renovated.”

The government has plans to convert the coastal fort, built by the Portuguese, into a major heritage site and tourist attraction. Raut, however, said that locals were not taken into confidence when the ASI began restoration work on the fort.

The ASI’s Mumbai Circle Superintending Archaeologist M.S. Chauhan said he had received some complaints about the Vasai fort project and promised he would to look into them.

“The fort was built around the 16th century by the Portuguese and the inscriptions on its premises are an important evidence of history,” Thane historian Sadashiv Tetwilkar, who has written a book on various forts in the district. “There are certain standard international practices that need to be followed during any conservation project,” conservation architect Vikas Dilawari said. “One will have to check if the ASI has followed all of them or not.”

This post originally appeared in the Monday, 28th June 2010 edition of Hindustan Times

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