Updated: November 5, 2021 7:45:31 am
The Mumbai Heritage Conservation Committee (MHCC) has given its nod to the Mumbai civic body to revamp the surroundings of the Gateway of India.
The project, which is likely to cost the BMC Rs 20 crore, is aimed at providing a clear view of the monument and Shivaji Maharaj statue to people from the approach road. Currently, the view is blocked by the plaza, shops and temporary security tents at the entrance.
As per the plan approved by MHCC, the plaza building built 15 years ago inside the premises will be demolished. The existing garden around the Shivaji Maharaj statue and fountain will be opened to the public. The MHCC has advised streamlining all the light poles, security systems, railing and dustbins in the premises to complement the heritage site.
The Gateway, which overlooks the Arabian Sea, was erected to commemorate the visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Mumbai and is a popular tourist site.
A new ticket counter and toilet blocks will be constructed in the area running parallel to the customs building. The MHCC’s no-objection certificate (NOC) has asked the BMC to maintain the vista of the customs building, which is a very old structure and a part of the original setting of the Gateway of India but is not a listed heritage building.
The MHCC noted that the separate block for the public shall be a more discreet location and accessible only from the outside (of the Gateway premises) for the public.
The civic body said the idea is to streamline the surroundings without any ad-hoc placement of security tents. Eateries inside the plaza will also be shifted within the premises before the ticket counter.
The civic body is likely to do away with the heavy barricading at the entrance. The committee has suggested the implementation of advanced surveillance/security technology to reduce the physical requirement of structures and manpower.
“The new design will ensure visual access to visitors, so that people can see the Gateway of India, the sea and have a chance to see the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, which is currently lost in all the visual clutter,” said an official from the BMC’s heritage department.
Last year, state Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray in a meeting with Deputy Chief Minister and Finance Minister Ajit Pawar had discussed the development and conservation of 22 tourist sites, including the Gateway of India.
Since the maintenance of the site and area around it is divided among various agencies, the state government in September last year constituted a committee of senior officials from the BMC, the Maharashtra Maritime Board (MMB), the state archaeological department, MbPT and the police department.
For instance, the structure and the 100-metre area near it come under the state archaeological department, while the jetty and boating area is under the Mumbai Port Trust (MbPT). The area outside it falls under the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), which includes the plaza approach pathways.
The tourism department led by Thackeray has also planned to hold a sound and light show at the site. As per initial discussions, the show will be based on themes related to the history of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, the Marathas and the freedom movement among others.
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