Maha forts to boost tourism; Oppn says move insult to Shivaji
Mumbai: Maharashtra Government's "heritage tourism" policy will allow use of historical forts not in the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) protected list for promoting tourism, a senior official said here on Friday.
The move has come under flak from opposition parties who said the plan to rent out forts for heritage hotels and wedding venues was an insult to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his followers.
There are about 350 forts in Maharashtra and this move will give impetus to the local economy, state Tourism Secretary Vinita Singhal told PTI.
"We don't plan to touch heritage forts which have historical value and are protected under the ASI like the Raigad fort. The state government has already budgeted over Rs 500 crore for its upgradation," she said.
Singhal said there are many which are not in the protected list which are frequented by people for picnics, hiking etc. "These are blessed with beautiful landscape and have history and tradition and can be used for tourism as we want to give impetus to the local economy," she said.
On reports that the forts will also be used as wedding venues and heritage hotels, Singhal said the policy also makes it clear that the local flora and fauna will be protected and no permanent constructions in the forts will be allowed.
Social events which fit into the fabricof Maharashtra's political life will be allowed, she said.
Condemning the move, Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde said renting out forts for heritage hotels and wedding venues is an insult to Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj and his followers.
"This capitalist government is planning to give away Chhatrapati Shivaji's forts on rent," Munde said, warning the government against touching the forts.
He said these forts may have become old but history was very much alive in them.
"If you can't protect the history and legacy of ShivajiMaharaj, lakhs of his followers like us are still around to look after them. The government shouldn't play with emotions of Shiv bhakts (devotees of Shivaji)," he said.
Munde said the Modi government gave the historical Red Fort on lease and now the state government is following suit.
MNS leader Anil Shidore said the government shouldn't commercialise the state's pride and history which is a treasured legacy.
Congress leader Muzaffar Hussain said the government may even sell off the forts in future. "Should we keep quiet," he said.
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