Mumbai: Sewri Fort to soon be a tourist hotspot

Updated: Nov 12, 2018, 18:59 IST | Arita Sarkar | Mumbai

State govt, civic body come together to give the 17th century structure an attractive makeover

Besides heaps of garbage blocking its entrance, areas inside the fort, too, are littered with trash, while its walls have been dirtied with messages and love notes. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar
Besides heaps of garbage blocking its entrance, areas inside the fort, too, are littered with trash, while its walls have been dirtied with messages and love notes. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar

There are big plans for the long-neglected Sewri Fort, built way back in the 17th century, as government agencies have united to give the historical structure a makeover. While the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums of the state will restore the heritage structure, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (the F-South ward office and heritage department) will illuminate it. It's the only public place in city offering a view of the flamingoes that are spotted in the mudflats between November and June.

The structure has not been maintained well with its entrance blocked by accumulated over months. Messages and love notes are engraved on its walls, and the dingy godowns used as storage by the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT) are littered with cigarette butts, gutkha wrappers and other trash.

Besides heaps of garbage blocking its entrance, areas inside the fort, too, are littered with trash, while its walls have been dirtied with messages and love notes. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar

A complete overhaul
Tenders for the restoration work, which will cost Rs 4.03 crore, are expected to be floated soon, and the work is expected to take around a year. Dr Tejas Garge, director of the Directorate, said they have been trying to find old pictures of Sewri Fort, so that they can retain the structure's original look. "One of the walls of the fort has collapsed... We are trying to recreate it as per the original. We'll also set up a plan for events like live concerts for classical music or dance to be held there, so that the place is not misused," he said. 

Barring locals, not many are aware of the fort, and it isn't considered safe for women. The Wadala police, who conduct rounds of the fort in mufti thrice a day, said it is a hangout spot for druggies, and every month, they register four to five cases against people consuming narcotics there under the NDPS Act. Garge, who is aware of the problem, said they are planning to set up wooden doors to the godowns to curb such illicit activities.

Besides heaps of garbage blocking its entrance, areas inside the fort, too, are littered with trash, while its walls have been dirtied with messages and love notes. Pics/Pradeep Dhivar

Effecting change
Local corporator Sachin Padwal of Shiv Sena has been following up on the issue for the past few months. "The fort has the best view of the flamingoes, and it's a shame it's not maintained well. But now, we have gotten funds approved, and soon, there will be a flamingo gallery there," he said. He added that in order to ensure regular maintenance, an NGO will be roped in; it will appoint a guard to keep vigil.

Civic officials said they are consulting with architects to decide the best lights to set up to illuminate the structure. "We are planning to install trapezoidal lights while the restoration work goes on. We want to ensure the fort becomes a tourist spot," said an official from F-South ward.

The official added that since the fort stands on MbPT land, they will consult with port trust officials for improvement of the access road leading to the structure. 
When contacted, an MbPT official from the Estate Department said they will clear the garbage and can arrange for a site visit to understand the issues but have no other plans as of now.

Rs 4.03cr
Cost of the makeover

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