The 800-year-old Mahim Fort abutting Arabian Sea looks set to undergo a revamp, with the state government and Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) planning on getting the hutments around it cleared. Tourism Minister Aaditya Thackeray had visited the spot last week along with officers from the BMC and held discussions on the revamp of the area.
State Archaeology department director Tejas Garge said, “This plan was discussed at BMC-level and we are yet to receive a formal letter from them.’’
A senior officer of the BMC who visited the fort with the tourism minister said that there are 230 hutments in the fort, adding these need to be rehabilitated first.
About five years back, the BMC had made a plan to beautify the fort, but the project did not take off as the then Municipal commissioner, Ajoy Mehta, was not in favour of the BMC bearing the rehabilitation cost of the slum dwellers in the area.
“Now, we have many flats meant for project-affected persons in Kurla and these occupants of Mahim fort can be shifted there. Since the BMC and state government are controlled by Shiv Sena, this project can now sail through smoothly,’’ said a BMC officer.
Thackeray did not respond to calls.
Suhail Khandwani, a trustee of Mahim Dargah, welcomed the proposal to revamp the fort. “It is a good effort by BMC. The Mahim fort has a history of 800 years. There are 1,000 people living in the fort and it is full of slums. It will be good if it’s restored.’’ Khandwani said.
The fort was built nearly eight centuries ago by local king Pratap Bimb and was an important war accessory, given its strategic location affording a view of the Arabian Sea.
In the 16th Century, the fort was the site of frequent skirmishes between the Portuguese and a Gujarati ruler before the island of Mahim was captured by the Portuguese and given as dowry to Charles II of England. After the English gained control of the fort, they strengthened it and turned it into a strategic watchtower against attacks.
The entire Mahim beach was cleaned up recently by BMC and the lighting system was improved. Additional Municipal Commissioner P Velarasu has already drawn a plan for a boardwalk from Mahim beach to Bandra Bandstand via Sealink promenade and the file for the same is awaiting clearance from Municipal Commissioner I S Chahal.