At least a kilometre away from the Azad Nagar Metro station in Andheri, a historic 200-foot monolith column, said to be nearly 65 million years old, lies in a shambles.
Gilbert Hill, a protected Grade II heritage structure, is made of black basalt rock that has attracted many geologists from far and wide. The structure is said to have been created out of molten lava that was squeezed out of the earth’s clefts during the Mesozoic era. Almost 250 steps up the hill is the famous Gaondevi temple, which gives a panoramic view of the concrete jungle that Andheri is.
However, Gilbert Hill is at present flanked by haphazard construction and encroachments.
Besides, there are no information boards at the site highlighting the importance of the hill. Also, there are no sign boards in the vicinity that could direct tourists to the site, as a result of which most remain unaware about the rich history of the structure.
Nineteen-year-old Sankalp Baheti, who was visiting Mumbai from Indore, said, “It’s saddening to see that authorities have taken barely any measures to maintain the structure and its heritage value. This completely destroys the significance of the structure.”
Ashok Sonawane, 49, said there is very little awareness about the significance and opulent history of the structure among Mumbai’s residents. “From my childhood days I have been staying in Mumbai but this is the first time that I am visiting the hill,” the Vashi resident said.
For construction to stop around the hill, local MLA Ameet Satam said, the structure has to be in the grade I list and that he has sent a letter to the heritage department asking for the up grade.
Talking about the measures he plans to take to conserve the hill, Satam said the hill will be bolted and jacketed to increase the strength. “Net boundaries will be constructed around the hill and steps will be taken to make sure that rain water flows out of the hill,” added Satam.
To conduct a complete geological survey of the hill, a consultant company was appointed who came up with a report on conservation of hill which was submitted to the collector. The conservation project almost costs Rs 5 crore, mentioned Satam.