Under new tourism policy, private players to develop 22 forts in Maharashtra

Under new tourism policy, private players to develop 22 forts in Maharashtra. These structures with lesser historical value are not under ASI. Amid opposition from heritage experts, the State government has decided to lease out 22 forts to private players and consortia.

Officials said monetisation of these forts, identified as Class 2 category with lesser historical significance, will be done by leasing out properties of the Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) for 30 and 60 years.

A new tourism policy cleared by the State Cabinet on Wednesday allows privatisation of MTDC resorts, open land, and other protected monuments, which are not under the control of the Archaeological Survey of India.

As per the policy, there are 350 properties under the MTDC, which could be given on a revenue-sharing formula or a one-time premium charged to private players. The model has already been followed in Rajasthan and Goa, officials from the tourism department said, adding it would help develop the properties better and create a tourist ecosystem in the vicinity.

Some of the forts to be leased out in the first phase include Kandhar, Nagardhan, Nandur, Korigad, Laling, Salher, Parola, and Ghodbunder. All of these are under State control.

The Laling fort in Dhule was constructed in Khandesh region during the time of the Faruqi Kings. The Kandhar fort in Nanded district was built by Rashtrakuta king Krishna III of Malkhed. “We are fully aware of the heritage value of the forts and want to ensure that the historical and cultural significance of the structures be preserved at any cost,” an official said.

The lease term stipulates that the forts be provided with air connectivity, no private structure be erected, no water bodies be disturbed, and no environmental damage be caused.

Private players will be allowed to develop the forts and their surrounding infrastructure, and set up facilities like tenting and sound and light show. Government sources said they have not taken a call if liquor will be allowed to be served during any of the activities.

The proposal to privatise forts was earlier tabled by the government but was shelved under pressure from conservationists. However, officials said the new policy includes stricter norms to ensure safety of the properties. (Source: The Hindu)

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