Pune's Zero Stone lies amid dust and garbage

Published: Oct 31, 2011, 08:07 IST | Vivek Sabnis |

PMC should take better care of historic stone marking centre of city near GPO, prevent littering near it, say activists

PMC should take better care of historic stone marking centre of city near GPO, prevent littering near it, say activists

The point that marks the exact geographical location of the city, the Zero Stone has been lying in a dilapidated condition near the General Post Office (GPO). The stone that was installed during the British rule measures distances from one place to another. The structure falls under the International System of Units mapping and is also preserved as a heritage site.

Sorry state: The Zero Stone near the General Post Office. The civic body
has promised to discuss the issue with the heritage cell department and
take necessary action. Pic/Krunal Gosavi

Pune's Zero Stone was installed at the GPO after a survey and later marked as a central spot now also known as Zero Ground. The British rulers had installed 80 such Zero stones across India. The Zero Stone in the city was made of local basalt and has names of places such as Poona, Paud, Sinhagad, Alandi, Purandhar, Nashik, Ahmadnagar, Sholapur and even Bangalore engraved on them.

The sorry state of the Zero Stone outside the GPO in Pune was first brought to notice by a history professor Namita Gupta, one year ago when the stone was partially being covered during the pavement repair works in the area. "She raised the issue with PMC road department who ensured the stone was put back, but nothing happened further as Gupta passed away," said a colleague from at Wadia College.

Devendra Sasne, a young pilot and writer who was upset about the dilapidated condition of the stone, also wrote about it in his special Diwali magazine, Yuva Akshar. Sasne said, "I was keen to see the Zero Stone in Pune after I personally visited the Zero Stone at Washington DC a few months ago. The Zero Stone outside the GPO is gathering dust and people spit after eating pan. It has almost become a dumping place. I really don't know who to raise the issue with. If no government agency is coming forward to clean up the place, I will do it myself."

140-yr-old landmark
Kiran Kalamdani, noted conservation architect, who had revitalised the historic Shaniwar Wada 15 years ago, said that Pune GPO was constructed in 1870 and the Zero Stone must be as old as the structure. "In 1992, I had chalked plan for the GPO and also recommended that the place be cleaned up and lit with lamps. This is the PMC's responsibility now and they should do something about the Zero Stone at the earliest," he said. PMC has already listed the GPO in its Grade I Heritage Sites and therefore they should ensure that the spot is clean, he added.

Will do needful: PMC
Shyam Dhawale, in-charge of PMC Heritage Cell, however, agreed to take necessary action about the Zero Stone outside GPO. "This issue shall be discussed in the heritage cell soon and we shall also take up the problem with the GPO officials. I understand the importance of the place, if everything goes well, we are also ready to decorate the place on priority," he said.

Zero stones across the world
>> At Roman Forum: Millennium Orem (Rome)
>> At Nihonbashi Bridge: Zero Stone (Tokyo)
>> At Washington DC: Zero Mile Marker (US)
>> At Charing Cross Junction: Zero Mile Stone alias London Stone (UK)
>> At Paris: Zero Point (France)
>> In Delhi: Zero Milestone at Rajghat near Mahatma Gandhi Samadhi

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