Mumbai Heritage Shocker: Banganga Tank Steps Irreparably Damaged By BMC Contractor's Machinery, Sparking Local Outcry And Protests

Mumbai Heritage Shocker: Banganga Tank Steps Irreparably Damaged By BMC Contractor's Machinery, Sparking Local Outcry And Protests

The Archaeological Survey of India strongly criticised the civic body, emphasising that Banganga is a protected national monument and that the use of heavy machinery has irreparably harmed the steps.

RUCHA KANOLKARUpdated: Wednesday, June 26, 2024, 02:55 PM IST
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Mumbai Heritage Shocker: Banganga Tank Steps Irreparably Damaged By BMC Contractor's Machinery, Sparking Local Outcry And Protests |

Mumbai: Locals living around the Banganga tank are up in arms against the BMC after a contractor damaged the heritage steps of the 1,100-year-old site. On Monday, the contractor – hired to clean the tank as part of the revitalization project – used a JCB machine to level the steps. The civic body claimed to have fixed the damage in a day, however, experts remain skeptical about the work quality.

The Archaeological Survey of India strongly criticised the civic body, emphasising that Banganga is a protected national monument and that the use of heavy machinery has irreparably harmed the steps. An FIR has been lodged at the Malabar Hill police station in the matter. Mumbai suburban guardian minister Mangal Prabhat Lodha stated, “I can assure you that strict action is being taken. The contractor has been blacklisted.”

A city-based conservation architect said, “The stone stairs at the Banganga tank, a prominent and integral part of the structure, suffered damage that required utmost care in its repair. Stone dressing can facilitate the repair process.” It is crucial that the damaged portion is restored properly, while attention must be paid that the springhead in the north-east corner of the tank remains undamaged. Banganga has undergone numerous restorations throughout its history, but never has it suffered such extensive damage, underlined the architect.

Sanjay Shirke, a local resident, said, “In the name of beautification, they (the BMC) have utterly desecrated a gem of Mumbai's heritage. While they have simply painted the iconic 'deep stambh', what about the areas that truly require attention? The overflow system that drains water from the tank is stuffed with trash and its key is broken.” The sacred Gaimukh, near Ramkund, is covered in garbage. People come here to worship and this holy site is in a mess. Just last week, metal sheets were carelessly discarded into the tank, posing a safety hazard to those living nearby, Shirke pointed out.

He further said, “We have also come to know about a Slum Rehabilitation Authority project planned for this area. We are concerned about the fate of the numerous temples here. Despite being in Mumbai's prime location, we lack basic amenities like toilets and water.” Around 12 toilets built five years ago are yet to be inaugurated. The long-delayed hospital construction adds to the woes, added Shirke.

Another resident said, “It's appalling that no one seems to be accountable for the damage to the heritage structure. Who will compensate for the losses incurred? Moreover, it's astonishing that neither the BMC officials nor those from the heritage department have bothered to inspect the site, leaving everything in the hands of the contractor.” The newly-installed lamps are perpetually off. Several complaints have fallen on deaf ears. The site is a tourist spot, however, there is no toilet facility. If beautification is truly a priority, why not start with something as fundamental as providing basic amenities, the local asked.

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