While civic work on the city’s roads has destroyed many heritage milestones installed in the British era, officials of F South ward Friday discovered one such structure on SS Rao road in Parel. The officials spotted the milestone, considered a Grade One structure, during a demolition drive and are planning to restore it at the site.
Said to have been built before the 1830s, there are 15 such milestones in the city between Horniman Circle and Sion, the heritage list says.
These milestones measure the distance from the St Thomas’s Cathedral, since all the roads started out from the church back then. While around seven of them are known to have been discovered, many have been submerged in the road or have gone missing.
Conservation architect Abha Lambah had carried out a study to track the milestones in the city over a decade ago. “I had tried to find them around 15 years ago and had managed to locate around 12 of them. In some instances, the level of the road had come up over time and the milestones were submerged,” she said. According to Lambah, the milestones should be restored in a proper manner at the place where they were built.
“The milestones have a geographical context and draw their significance from it. They, thus, have to be preserved in situ. The BMC needs to ensure that the milestones are not engulfed by the pavement level and are not obscured. They should also ensure that the stones are not painted over. A little plaque can be set up near them to explain the significance of the structure in Hindi, English and Marathi, so that they don’t end up looking like stumps,” she said.
Assistant municipal commissioner Vishwas Mote said civic officials had found the Parel milestone while demolishing an illegal structure on the pavement.
“The structure is of historical significance since these were the first signs of measurement of distance in Bombay. We will preserve and maintain the structure by cleaning the stone and cordoning the area with pillars. We will also try to find the other milestones and preserve them in a similar manner,” Mote said.