Cannon Theft Raises Concerns Over Safety of Maharashtra Forts

Published: 18th December 2015 02:52 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th December 2015 02:52 AM   |  A+A-

MUMBAI: Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials are left red-faced after they found that a cannon weighing 60 kg went missing from the famous Padmadurga fort in Murud-Janjira in Raigad, around 120 km from here.

The “theft” has raised concerns over the safety of around 100 historic cannons at the 31 forts in the district. The FIR registered by the Archaeological Survey of India with the Raigad Police states that the cannon at Padmadurga, one of the five sea forts built by Chhatrapati Shivaji, was last seen in June.

Raigad SP Mohammad Suvez Haque said the Archaeological Survey of India officials had mentioned that no security guard had been deputed at the fort situated in middle of the Arabian Sea.

The Archaeological Survey of IndiaI has appointed a caretaker at the fort. The caretaker leaves by evening.

History researcher Pandurang Balkawade said the Padmadurga fort had as many as 80 canons. “The number came down to 40-45 a couple of years ago,” he said.

He opined that the cannon could have been stolen for its iron.Though in a shambles, Padmadurga is now a picnic spot.

Interestingly, this is not the first incident where the Archaeological Survey of India officials’ apparent apathy towards maintaining the forts in Raigad has been highlighted. In 2008, the ASI planned to sell the Underi sea fort to a private builder but had to drop the plan following opposition from several quarters.

“The fort at Kolai has become a party spot for boozers. The Revdanda fort has become a favourite with lovers.  A cannon at the Ghosalgad fort is broken and the paintings of a tiger are scattered around the fort,” S M Deshmukh, a journalist who worked in Raigad for around 12 years, said.

“The picture at the Sudhagad fort is not different. There is no protection for the historic sculptures,” Deshmukh said.

The Archaeological Survey of IndiaI attributed the security lapse to the shortage of staff, lack of funds and the lack of instruments to protect the forts in the district. “Manpower and lack of funds are big issues. We have limited resources and are trying our best to deliver in the given circumstances,” an ASI official from the city said on condition of anonymity.

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