The historic Vellore Fort and moat surrounding it are all set to receive a new and much needed lease of life soon. The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) is planning to de-silt the 2-km moat encircling the fort in order to revive the water body which was once the pride of Vellore, as one of the biggest rainwater harvesting systems.
This was disclosed by the superintending archeologist (Chennai circle) Dr G Maheswari on Thursday here. She was here to take part in the inauguration of a weeklong photo exhibition on ‘Heritage of Vellore District,’ organized by ASI at the fort.
Speaking to Express, she said a local committee would be formed representing the local body, district administration, NGOs and experts that would be involved in cleaning the entire stretch of the moat, that had been receiving both natural and man made silt over a period of time.
The ongoing construction of the retaining wall around the moat at a cost of Rs 48 lakh would also be completed by next year.
Out of the 58 building structures (declared as national monuments) inside the fort that were occupied by various government departments, six had been vacated but were yet to be handed over to the ASI.
Efforts would be made to vacate other buildings also, so that the ASI could put these structures to better use. The Tipu Mahal and Hyder Mahal inside the fort would also be restored to their original glory and thrown open to public. To begin with, Rs 10 lakh would be spent in clearing vegetation in and around Hyder Mahal, she added.
Maheswari also said fairs and exhibitions would not be allowed on the adjoining fort grounds hereafter as such activities caused more damage to the are and protected structures. Instead plans were on to create parks in the area.
Maheswari also noted that the ASI had launched a drive to retrieve the lands under encroachment in and around ASI monuments and monolithic sites in the State In Vellore, notice had been issued to the Corporation for constructing a new building within the 100- metres of prohibited area around the fort, a national monument, where a Amma Unavagam was presently functioning, she added.
ASI was also working on creating bylaws to regularise the existing building structures constructed prior to 1992 in prohibitive/regulatory areas near the 411 protected monuments in the State, she added.