Vellore fort to turn tourists’ beacon

The Vellore fort would be lighted up before August 15, Independence Day, this year as part of the tourism promotion measures being undertaken jointly by the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) and the Vellore district administration within the historic fort, according to Ajay Yadav, Collector of Vellore.

Talking to newspersons in the ASI office inside the fort here on Thursday, Mr. Yadav said that the decision to light up the fort has been taken at a meeting he had with Sathyabama Badrinath, Superintending Archaeologist, ASI, last month. It has been decided to power the lights with the help of solar energy and wind energy in order to avoid the problems in maintenance of the lighting that was provided in the fort about eight years ago and to reduce the operational and maintenance cost. The earlier lighting project failed in view of the absence of an arrangement for payment of electricity charges for the lighting.

The Collector said that this time around the project would be funded jointly by the government and a private agency under the self-sufficiency scheme. An agency having expertise in operating solar and wind energy systems and approved by the Tamil Nadu Energy Development Agency (TEDA) would be entrusted with the installation and maintenance of the lighting system. The functioning of the system would be monitored by the Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system, a computer-based system of monitoring power-based facilities. The terminal of the SCADA system would be located in the office of the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) in the Collectorate, which would be under the direct control of the District Collector.

Mr. Yadav said that it has been decided to provide LED (light emission diode) lights in the fort. It would be a different type of lighting than the conventional one, with lights being provided in all the 20 bastions of the fort, each light being in the form of a mannequin of a soldier, an image which would be reflected in the water on the moat. Besides, lights would also be fitted in the walls of the moat, each light being protected by tough glass shades. All the lights would be green in colour in order to provide a green environment in tune with the greenery inside the fort. Manpower for the maintenance of the lighting would be required only for providing security, which would be taken care of by the police and the forest department, he said.

The Collector said that the conservation cell of the Madurai Kamaraj University has been entrusted with the task of preparing a detailed project report on improving the tourism potential in the fort. Since the fort has a rich history, the DPR would include a proposal to introduce a permanent sound-and-light programme which would convey to the tourists the history of the fort.

When reporters asked what steps the district administration and the ASI planned to keep the moat alive in the light of the partial drying up this year of the moat which used to be perennially full of water, Mr. Yadav said that research has to be done on the moat, on aspects such as why the moat has been separated by a wall inside the moat, the source of water, etc., before anything could be done on improving the moat.

Asked what steps have been taken to vacate the government offices inside the fort in response to the request of the ASI to hand over all the buildings inside it, the Collector said that the state government has decided to vacate all the government offices inside the fort except the Police Training School and the office of the District Forest Officer.

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