Race Against Time: India Strives to Save Maratha Forts from Encroachment

Shivneri Fort
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Pune, 14th April 2024: In a significant move highlighting India’s rich historical heritage, the central government has put forth 12 forts, revered for their military significance during the Maratha regime, for consideration in the UNESCO World Heritage Site list for 2024-25. Among these nominations, 11 forts are located in Maharashtra, while one is situated in Tamil Nadu. However, officials conducting inspections have raised concerns over rampant encroachments on these historic landmarks.


The nominated forts, integral to Maratha military strategy, include Shivneri, Lohgad, Raigad, Suvarnadurg, Panhala, Vijaydurg, Sindhudurg, Salher, Rajgad, Khanderi, Pratapgad, and Jinji. A committee comprising 22 officials, chaired by the state’s chief secretary, has been tasked with facilitating the inclusion of these forts in the prestigious heritage list. The committee comprises representatives from the Department of Archaeology, the Directorate of Tourism, all district Collectors, and subject experts.


However, concerns have been raised regarding the encroachments plaguing these historic sites. Families have reportedly established residences within some forts, while hotels and private dwellings have been erected in their vicinity, prompting calls for urgent action to preserve their historical integrity.


A recent meeting convened at the Pune Collectorate underscored the imperative of addressing these encroachments in accordance with the World Heritage Site guidelines. Director of the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, architects specializing in fort preservation, District Collector Dr. Suhas Diwase, and other officials deliberated on strategies to safeguard these iconic landmarks.


Collector Dr. Suhas Diwase emphasized the importance of formulating a comprehensive ‘District Level Planned Management Plan’ to facilitate the inclusion of these forts in the coveted UNESCO list. He pledged to adhere to directives issued by the Central and State Governments to ensure the preservation and restoration of these historic sites.


Efforts to address encroachments and bolster the nomination process are slated to intensify post-Lok Sabha elections, with officials scheduled to conduct re-inspections before the onset of the monsoon season. Funds from both the central and state governments will be allocated for these preservation endeavors, with provisions made from district planning expenses to support the initiative, said District Planning Officer Kiran Indalkar.