AIMING to restore British-era milestones, damaged by road-widening work or other development works of localities around them, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) will soon survey all these Grade-I heritage milestones under a public private partnership.
Having stumbled upon one of these milestones in Parel this April, the F South Ward office restored the structure and is set to have a formal unveiling on Wednesday. This milestone bears the Roman numeral V, indicating five miles from St Thomas Cathedral in Fort, one of the most prominent landmarks in South Mumbai in the early 1800s when the milestones were erected. The BMC will now start excavating or restoring eight other milestones, including two found opposite Chitra Cinema in Dadar East in May.
The BMC has taken up the initiative on a PPP basis along with a private trust, following approvals from the heritage committee.
“We have been working on restoring the first milestone we found on SS Rao Road for the past three months. We have also installed a plaque mentioning its historical significance and location on the map,” said Vishwas Mote, assistant municipal commissioner of the ward. Mote added that a similar exercise will be undertaken for the other milestones. “We are working with a conservation architect who has found most of them. Records indicate that historians have found 13 of them. We will restore them in their original location.”
The list of protected heritage structures — said to have been built before the 1830s — has 15 such milestones located from Horniman Circle to Sion. Mote has taken up the conservation project with heritage architect Tapan Niket Deshpande and Bharat Gothoskar who conduct heritage walks in the city.
“Our research included speaking to historians who have studied the milestones and have seen them at some point. With their inputs and with the help of some documents, we have been able to find nine of them including some which have been displaced from their original location. Some of these milestones have been demolished during repeated activities of road widening. Since this project focuses on micro conservation, their restoration will educate people about their importance and respect them. They have survived for 200 years and with proper restoration, they can survive for another 200 years,” said Gothoskar.
Deshpande pointed out that they have successfully managed to track nine of them and will excavate each of them. “We have to use human labour for excavation of sensitive structures like these milestones especially since we are not sure how deeply embedded they are below the road. We know that they can measure between 3-5 feet in height,” she said.
Among those that have been located are milestones in Kalbadevi, opposite Bhatia Hospital in Tardeo, near Antonio Da Silva School in Dadar and one in Sion. One from NM Joshi Marg was moved to Badhwar Park in Cuffe Parade, while one originally listed as being located in Chunabhatti remains to be found.