VELLORE: Having sunk almost a crore of rupees into a lighting system to light up Vellore Fort powered by wind and solar energy, poor maintenance and official apathy has led to the lighting system deteriorating to the point that the Fort has been enveloped in darkness in the night time for almost one year.
The Rs 90 lakh system lighting up the Fort during the night hours by tapping wind and solar energy was a measure instituted to beautify the historic Fort and promote tourism. A 20 KW power generation unit was established by erecting solar panels and wind turbines imported from Germany.
Eerie silhouettes of deteriorating mannequins, dressed like the sepoys of the Vijayanagara era, grimly remind the public of the failure of officials to sustain the project. The project was first conceived of in the first week of August 2012 under the administration of the then collector Ajay Yadav. It was successfully completed in September 2013 under the Power Grid Corporation of India and District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) with the Self Sufficiency Scheme’s guidelines.
Twenty mannequins, resembling Vijayanagar-era sepoys with a spear, standing on the bastions along the lower rampart wall on the north-eastern side of the Fort was an added measure enhancing the attractiveness of the Fort, especially with the idols of the sepoys being illuminated using 30-Watt multi-colour LED lights and 3 watt spotlights. The entire lighting was monitored and maintained using software specifically for such systems.
“A total of 40 LED lights and 300 spot lights were erected to create a visual treat during the night hours. The lights were directed toward the Fort and bastions where the mannequins are installed,” said an official.
Efforts were made for the Fort to resemble the Vijayanagara period giving the impression that the mannequin soldiers were guarding the Fort with their images reflected in the waters of the moat.
Since the BORG Energy company, which executed the project, handed over the facility to the DRDA after maintaining it for a year as per agreement, maintenance and the aesthetic nature of the project has been lost on the administration. The mannequins with torn clothes remain a testimony to official apathy. Legs and hands are missing from most of the mannequins and several LED lights worth several lakh rupees are missing.
Project Officer, DRDA, Manohar Singh, said, “We will take effective measures to put the project back on track to breathe life into the historical Fort.”
Vellore Fort was built by Chinna Bommi Nayak and Thimma Reddy Nayak, chieftains under Sadasiva Raya of the Vijayanagara Empire in 1566. It is believed to be the country’s only stone fort and is one of the finest military architectures with lower and upper rampart walls. Bijapur Sultans, Marathas, Carnatic Nawabs and the British have also held the fort at different times till independence.