Updated: June 25, 2021 1:31:48 am
Maharashtra’s tourism department has proposed a state fort scheme to provide basic amenities to the tourists and improve their travel experience at unclassified forts in the state.
The draft policy proposes levying charges from the tourists for providing these basic amenities, officials said.
According to the tourism department’s draft policy, there are 435 forts in Maharashtra of which 47 are with the Centre’s Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and 51 with the state archaeology department. The remaining 337 forts, which are unclassified and unprotected, are with the state revenue and forest department.
Some of these forts, which are owned by private individuals, have been excluded from this scheme.
As of now, preservation and conservation of the forts have not been proposed in the draft policy which seeks to introduce basic amenities such as an approach road, drinking water, restaurant, toilets, electricity, signages, tourist information centre, guides, parking, beautification among others at the historical sites, officials said.
To enhance the experience of tourists, audio-visual mediums such as light and sound show to narrate the history of the forts will be introduced, according to the draft policy.
The fund for providing the basic amenities will be made available either from the regional tourism development plan, district planning committee scheme or the corporate social responsibility funds, it added.
Officials said since these unclassified forts do not fall under the category of protected sites, they are neglected by the ASI and the state’s archaeology department. “The scheme is proposed in the backdrop of complaints from fort lovers, trekkers and other people. We have published the draft policy and have sought suggestions and objections from experts and researchers and others till July 8,” said Dr Dhananjay Sawalkar, Director, Directorate of Tourism.
For the operation and maintenance of these forts, local women self-help groups (SHGs) will be appointed initially for three years. Forts falling in the forest area will be managed by the joint forest management committee. “If we don’t get enough responses from the local SHGs for the forts, we may consider roping in fort lovers’ groups or organisations from other areas for the purpose,” said Sawalkar.
The SHGs or other organisations that which will be appointed for the operation and maintenance of the forts can levy the charges, which will be fixed by the tourism department, on the tourists, officials said. Some of these charges include entry fee, parking charges, charges for use of forts for commercial purposes such as photography, video or film shooting. These charges will be fixed either by the state-level committee or the monitoring committee for the scheme, they said.
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