After the bhoomi puja at the site adjacent to the Fort, there was a up-row that how can a building be constructed within 200 mtrs of a heritage site. There were protests, and the said land was being utilized by the private tempos as a private bus stand.
About the Belgaum fort:
Built by the Queen of Sugandhatti (now Saundatti), Rani Jakkaladevi, as a form of atonement for a careless act which caused a forest fire in which 108 disciples of a Jain Muni perished, the original Fort, which was little more than a wooden stockade, encircled 108 exquisitely carved Jain temples — of which 3 still stand to ‘wow’ all tourists. The Hindu period of the Fort is commemorated by the temple to Goddess Durga at the Fort’s main gate while its long association with the Bijapur Sultanate finds expression in Safa Masjid, built on the Indo-Saracenic style, which the ASI allows access to on the two Eids.
The colonial period is captured in the beautifully laid out teak and laterite bungalows in the Fort. And it had a magnificent wooden church by the main gate, which, unfortunately got burnt down.
Quite pertinently, the Belgaum Fort felt the ramification of the valiant rebellion of Rani Chenamma of Kittur. In 1857 two Sepoy mutinees broke out within the Fort – and one Sepoy Munshi and another Sepoy Manipal Singh were hung in the Fort along with their colleagues for plotting a rebellion against the British. Another renowned freedom fighter, Bhaskar Rao Bhave (a.k.a. Babasaheb Nargundkar) was tried in the Fort and sentenced to a public hanging on Haystacks Hill. On the 16th of June 1858, he was publicly executed, whereupon all the womenfolk of his family threw themselves into a well.
Such is the stirring saga of the Belgaum Fort.
Many Belgaumites were shocked, saddened and dismayed over the IT dept. as even the esplanade area of the Fort, along with all the land along the eastern rampart walls to the Income Tax Office, which is using JCB’s to dig up the ‘skirts’ of the Fort and build an absolutely hideous 3 storied Income Tax Office and even more atrocious staff quarters, all within 20 meters of the wall of the Fort. This will reduce our Fort to a mere outhouse of the Income Tax Office and its historic walls will become a urinal for the staff quarter residents.
In a press release issued here by Jt.Commissioner PV Pradeep Kumar, IT department states that they acquired 4.5 acres of land of GLR survey No. 324 near Fort, Belgaum from Cantonment board, in 1984 by paying a consideration of Rs.16,02,612.
The said land has been acquired to build a office & residential quarters and NO objection certificate has been taken from Archaeological survey of India.
The IT dept also states that the private tempos are illegally parking there, and according to the Majestrial notification based on the Karnataka Police act 1963, and also the injunction from the court, private vehicles are barred from parking within 300 meters of the NWKRTC bus stand.
What does the law say:
“Under the new law, any construction – whether it is private or government – is punishable if it is done without the clearance of the concerned officials in the archaeological and heritage department. Simply put, this means that if you reside within 100 metres of any centrally protected heritage structure without permission, the new law can put you either in jail for two years and/or Rs 1 Lakh fine or both. Only basic repairs such as water and sanitation can be carried forth.”