The ‘walkthrough museum’ at Pune Zero Mile Stone, built by the Pune Municipal Corporation and inaugurated in September 2019, has been vandalised by unidentified miscreants.
The installation on the pavement outside the General Post Office (GPO) on Sadhu Vaswani Road, maps the history of the Great Trigonometric Survey of India conducted between 1800 and 1860 to measure the length and breadth of British India.
It consists of several statues of Indian and British personalities involved in the task as well as unnamed Indian surveyors who are said to have lost their lives during this project.
GPO staffers, who see the installations every day while entering and leaving their workplace, discovered that several fibre statues at the installations were vandalised a few days ago with mirrors broken, hands of statues mutilated and thrown away.
When asked, the Bundgarden Police said it was not aware of the incidence. “Since you have brought it to our notice, we shall find out what has happened,” said Nagraj Birasdar, Police Sub-Inspector in-charge of Council Hall Police Chowki under Bundgarden Police Station.
Congress corporator Arvind Shinde, at whose initiative the project was undertaken, said the damage may have been caused by “ganja addicts” who have been seen sometimes in the Mile Stone’s vicinity. On Saturday evening, a security guard was deployed at the venue by PMC upon Shinde’s request.
“It is shocking that this has happened at a spot right next to the headquarters of the police commissioner…I shall again raise the issue with the officials concerned,” said Shinde.
The Pune Zero Mile Stone is one of 80 such stones that were installed across the country after completion of the Trigonometric Survey of India. These were erected to serve as marks to locate the exact geographical location of a city for measurement purposes.
The spot lay neglected for decades and several roadside vendors had cropped up in the vicinity who would use the stone for all sort of purposes. In 2019, a project to revamp the site was begun and a ‘walking museum’ about the Survey was created at the spot. It has fibre statues of the men behind the survey and instruments such as theodolites used by the survey parties.
It was inaugurated on September 6, 2019 by the then PMC Commissioner Saurabh Rao.
The survey, which began in 1800, was the largest measurement exercise ever taken of the Earth’s surface and involved measuring India’s longitude and latitude, the altitude of places, topography, rivers, the distance of cities. Lieutenant-Colonel William Lambton started the project in the 1800s and, after his death in 1823, it was completed by George Everest. Indians such as Radhanath Sikdar and Nain Singh Rawat made valuable contributions to the exercise.