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Recommendations given to Mumbai civic body on upkeep of Flora Fountain: INTACH expert

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: August 17, 2019  | 17:22 IST

By Kunal Dutt New Delhi, Aug 17 (PTI) A team of experts, which had worked on the restoration of the 155-year-old Flora Fountain in Mumbai, has offered a "set of recommendations" to the civic body for its upkeep. INTACH's Nilabh Sinha, a material heritage expert, said monsoon and subsequent waterlogging are "major concerns" for the maintenance of the ornamental fountain that is a veritable city landmark. "We restored the fountain painstakingly, fixed the broken fingers and chipped stones in the structure. Now, it is restored and under the BMC and they will have to ensure that its glory is maintained," he said. Sinha, Principal Director, Art & Material Heritage Division of INTACH and INTACH Conservation Institutes, recently gave a talk on its restoration at the INTACH headquarters here. Asked about the modern interventions that had been introduced to the structure over the decades, he said, "Cement and enamel." "We had to remove layers and layers of those, plus white washing had also been done over its Portland stone surface, so we had to remove all of that very carefully before doing the main work," he told PTI. Flora Fountain, built in 1864, is situated at the Fort in the heart of South Mumbai. It is a fusion of water, architecture and sculpture depicting the Roman goddess Flora. The experts recommended proper cleaning of the fountain structure after waterlogging as sedimentation will affect the Portland stone surface. They also advised against use of cement or enamel or paint on the surface as was found during the restoration process. The INTACH (Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage) Mumbai chapter was awarded the work of restoring the sculptures of the Flora Fountain by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC). The restored fountain was opened to the public early this year. "We have given a set of recommendations to the corporation on maintenance of this iconic structure, especially during and after the monsoon as waterlogging will spell trouble for its surface," he said. During his illustrated talk, Sinha covered the stage-wise progression of the restoration process, and how the challenging task of removing "25 layers of paint, vegetation and bio-deterioration" was undertaken at the site without causing any harm to the original Portland stone of the UK. The fountain was originally to be built at the Victoria Zoo Gardens in Mumbai but was placed in the heart of the city in the open, and featured in many films and magazines and TV shows. In 1860, the then Bombay Governor, Sir Bartle Frere demolished the Old Fort as part of his efforts to improve civic sanitation and the urban space requirements of the growing city. The Bombay Fort was built between 1686 and 1743 by the British East India Company with three gates - the Apollo Gate, the Church gate and the Bazaar Gate, a moat, an esplanade, level open space on its western fringe and residences, according to INTACH. Consequent to the demolition of the Fort, the Flora Fountain was "erected at the exact place where the Church Gate stood before its demolition," Sinha said. Mumbai-based architect Vikas Dilawari, who was the main consultant for the project, said Porbandar stone was used to repair broken parts of the structure built of Portland stone. "This is the closest, we could get in India, to the Portland stone of the England. Moulds were made first very carefully for fixing broken fingers of figures depicted in the fountain," Sinha said. PTI KND SMN SMN

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