Kindly ask the Indian president to save Mumbais 65 million year old Gilbert Hill sign now

Smt. Pratibha Devisingh Patil,
President of India,
Rastrapathi Bhavan, New Delhi

20 August 2010
Respected President,

I live in cosmopolitan city with seven islands, Mumbai for over 31 years. I am currently working on an article with trustee(s) of Gilbert Hill to save this pre-historic Monolith. Kindly guide, us and show how to save this Monolith from greedy land sharks and Mafia. We would like to ensure that it remains, to be enjoyed, for future generations to come.

Gilbert Hill is certainly the best place in suburban Mumbai. It is the only hill of its kind in India and had been reportedly declared a National Park by the Central Government in 1952. The 200-foot-high vertical columns of the Gilbert hill are similar to the Devils Tower in Wyoming, and the Devils Post Pile National Monument in eastern California, USA. Gilbert Hill - One of only two Hills in the world of the same type. The other one is in USA (Devil's Tower is in north-eastern Wyoming, above the Belle Fourche River) they are made of Basalt hexagons protruding from the Earth. The hill offers a panoramic view of the city of Mumbai. After years of lobbying and public interest litigation by a Gaondevi Durga Devsthan Trust for the protection of the Hill, the pre-historic Gilbert Hill has finally been notified of its status as a heritage structure. It was notified as a heritage Grade II structure in September 2007.

Mumbais 65-million-year-old Gilbert Hill is threatened by a rash of urban constructions around the pre historical monolith. Government & revenue department have received numerous complaints but have been essentially non-responsive. Revenue department has given permission to builders to erect 16 stories skyscrapers in front of Monolith. Builders simply build a skyscraper of apartments and then they charge a hefty premium for the view of pre-historical Monument which is just outside the windows of sky scrapers. In August 2006, the high court passed an order banning all construction activity around the monolith. But new construction is going on in full swing. The sole purpose for the ban was due to a landslide which sheered off a portion of the hill. A Numbers of high-rises have sprung up all around Gilbert Hill in recent years, triggering concerns for its stability. The excavation work of the hill is going on. Slowly but steadily the hill is being trimmed. Today as stated above, the plateau top survived is very small. If further disturbance to the hill is not prevented, there is fear of creating more danger to the staircase and the two temples on the top. Gilbert Hill has been a habitat of Black Kites and the Indian Ring-necked Parakeets. Numerous birds were spotted in large numbers on the Gilbert hill. However, environmentalists fear that the numbers may dwindle over the years as their habitat may be destroyed by the concrete jungle around the monolith. Gilbert hill is a rare and unique geological feature in the geological history of the Deccan trap Area in the world. Therefore it is strongly recommended that now, at least the relict portion of the hill, should be preserved as a National Natural Monument. This has already been recommended by a competent authority like Geological Survey of India.

It is a pity that either through ignorance, we have failed to realize the value of our natural heritage, and have largely neglected it. It is my passion for its preservation and my sense of pride for our National Monument that drives me to stand in defence of Gilbert Hill. Gilbert Hill received its 15 minutes of fame in the Bollywood film Sholay. And Danny Boyles Oscar-winning film includes some scenes which were shot from atop Gilbert Hill, featuring the slums of the surrounding area. Gilbert Hills beauty was recognized by Bollywood and Hollywood producers, how can the government not recognize the same and allow construction around such a wonderful geologic anomaly? The wasting of Gilbert Hill must be prevented; it should be preserved for future generations to enjoy, and to appreciate. To be thrown away into the hands of builders lobby, would be a shame. It is heartbreaking to see that our Govt. officials treat our National Monuments so recklessly. This amazing monument should be considered an important part of our "Incredible India" heritage!!! By allowing the destruction and ruin of our National Monuments all that will be left for tourist attractions are SLUMS - DOGS & a few MILLIONAIRES!!!!!

In view of above, I humbly request Your Excellency to direct the concerned to take following action.

1- A sitting judge to enquire into the circumstances and an immediately action has been taken to stop construction around the hill
2- Enactment of a uniform and effective law in all states of India for protection of Monuments and Heritage site.
3- Immediately suspend the Revenue department officers for given permission to builders to erect 16 stories skyscrapers in front of Monolith.
4- Revenue department should mark out the area and rigidly enforce orders on private companies to keep away from the area so marked.

Enclosures
cc: The Honourable Kateekal Sankaranarayanan, Governor of Maharashtra;
The Honourable Ashok Shankarrao Chavan, Chief Minister of Maharashtra;
The Honourable Jairam Ramesh, Ministers of State Environment and Forests

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