While Nagpur has managed to secure the zero milestone, Pune’s zero milestone is well on its way to oblivion. Located outside the General Post Office (GPO), this stone has now acquired a fresh coat of whitewash, which is threatening to obliterate the engraved letters on it.
Marking the exact geographic location of the city, this stone falls under the International System of Units mapping and is expected to be preserved as a heritage monument. This stone is one of the 80 such stones installed by the British to mark the zero points for survey of the country. This oblong stone has the names of places Poona, Paud, Sinhagad, Alandi, Nashik engraved on it.
When two years ago, the sorry state of the milestone was brought to light by historians, it was suggested that the issue of its conservation should be put before the heritage committee of the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC). It was argued that this stone qualifies to be preserved as a Grade 1 heritage structure given the historic and architectural values associated with it.
Historian Sharvey Dhongade said zero stone was installed by the British rulers when the GPO was constructed in late in the 19th century. “This structure is from the previous century and is important from the heritage point of the city. Preservation of the monument is important and would be discussed with the heritage committee,” he said.
Shyam Dhawale, in-charge of the PMC’s heritage cell, admitted that the issue for the preservation of the zero stone has not come up before the heritage committee. “We will ensure that the stone is preserved in the proper manner,” he said.”