Six forts associated with the life and times of legendary Maratha warrior Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj will be taken up for conservation by a committee headed by Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray.
To implement the conservation programme, a 24-member steering committee, consisting of ministers, actors and experts, has been formed under the chairmanship of the chief minister, a government notification issued on Thursday said.
The forts earmarked for conservation are Shivneri (Junnar), Rajgad (Bhor) and Torna (Velhe), all three in Pune district, Vijaydurg (Devgad) and Sindhudurg (Malvan), both in Sindhudurg distict, and Sudhagad (Sudhagad) in Raigad district.
The committee includes deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar, revenue minister Balasaheb Thorat, cultural affairs minister Amit Deshmukh, tourism minister Aaditya Thackeray and forest minister, a post currently held by the CM.
The 13th descendant of Shivaji Maharaj and President-nomiated Rajya Sabha MP Sambhaji Raje Chhatrapati of the Kolhapur royal family, actor and Shiv Sena leader Aadesh Bandekar, who is also chairman of the Shree Siddhivinayak Ganpati Temple Trust and actor-writer Milind Gunaji are also members of the panel.
Director of Directorate of Archaeology and Museums Tejas Garge besides representatives of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and various government departments are also part of the committee, the notification said.
The committee would function from chief minister's secretariat, it said.
Of the 6 forts selected for conservation, five are part of a bid that the state government has submitted for UNESCO World Heritage Site nomination.
Maharashtra is home to over 400 forts, out of which approximately 350 forts are on government records - the highest in India.
These include three varieties: sea forts, forts built on hills and those constructed on land. They are further divided into two sections: classified and non-classified forts.
As many as 44 classified forts are protected under the ASI, while 49 are under the Directorate of Archaeology and Museums, the notification said.
There are 337 non-classified forts that are protected under the Revenue and Forest departments.