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Mumbai-Goa road hits heritage hurdle

The effort of a Mumbai professor has saved a piece of land that is likely to hold inscriptions of historical importance.

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The effort of a Mumbai professor has saved a piece of land that is likely to hold inscriptions of historical importance. The Ratnagiri division of archaeological department of government of Maharashtra has issued a letter to the collector of Ratnagiri District asking him not go ahead with any widening work of the state highway that could take over a parcel of 12 feet by 17 feet of land that has an inscription that indicates a map of ancient times.

The map is situated on a road perpendicular to the Mumbai-Goa highway which leads towards Ganpatipule.

“It probably is a map of the prehistoric Neolithic period (7,000-4,000BC) or Chalcolithic period (1800-1000 BC). This site indicates that it was used by merchants coming from the sea towards the interiors. The map was put there probably to give them instructions on how to go about,” said Anita Rane-Kothare, head of department of Ancient Indian Culture, St Xavier’s College.

She added, “The site is one of its kind and could be dated around 2,500 years ago. It is carved on laterite rock, which is very difficult to carve. Such heritage sites should be preserved from road expansion. In foreign countries they turn the highway to save such treasures. At least, the archaeological department can put up a board and save the site. Conservation is grossly ignored.” The public works department has already started work for expanding the width of the road.

When contacted, Bhalchandra Kulkarni, assistant director of Archaeology, Ratnagiri division said, “I haven’t seen that site but I read about it in the paper today. We have sent a letter to the collector, requesting them not to go ahead with the road widening work that could destroy the inscriptions. We have requested them to seek our NOC before doing anything. The work will be of importance only if it is man-made. We can get back to you tomorrow more on this.” When contacted, the chief engineer of PWD was unavailable for comment.

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